Losing the Pricey German Three: Audi Joins Mercedes-Benz, BMW in Pulling Out of Detroit Auto Show

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The 2019 North American International Auto Show will be decidedly less Germanic than in years past. On Thursday, Audi announced plans to ditch the upcoming Detroit show, joining its two premium German rivals in steering clear of the wintry venue.

It’s the latest blow for a marquee auto show currently in the process of reinventing itself amid declining relevance and automaker interest.

The 2018 show saw several high-end automakers take a pass, among them Porsche, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo. Increasingly, off-site reveals, plus the rise of digital media, have made floor space at the Cobo Center less valuable for global manufacturers. Still, the rationale for sitting out an auto show can come down to not having anything new to show off.

Audi debuted its 2019 RS 5 Sportback and A6 at this year’s New York International Auto Show.

In a statement reported by Automotive News, Audi said it “has had a long and successful history at NAIAS, debuting countless models that Audi customers enjoy today. For 2019, we have decided that we will not participate in NAIAS. We will continue to evaluate Auto Shows on a case by case basis relative to the timing of our product introductions and the value the show brings from a media and consumer perspective.”

A company spokeswoman confirmed the German brand will make an appearance at the upcoming Los Angeles and New York shows. Volkswagen, which shares the same corporate umbrella as Audi, plans to show up at the next NAIAS.

In the aftermath of Mercedes-Benz’s pull-out, the event’s organizers, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, began mulling ways to add some lustre to the fading event. It’s very possible the organizers will end up deciding on a change of date. Moving the show to October would not only provide pleasant temperatures for attendees, it would also push up the start of the U.S. auto show circuit and muscle ahead of the increasingly glitzy Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Recently, General Motors global communications VP Tony Cervone floated the idea of a city-wide festival staged in early summer, but who knows if DADA paid him any mind. A NADA spokesman told Automotive News that plans to “revolutionize” the event are advancing well.

[Image: Audi]

Steph Willems
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  • SSJeep SSJeep on May 11, 2018

    I've often wondered why auto shows exist at all anymore. They are a super expensive logistical nightmare for auto manufacturers, and the shows are crowded with children and flat-brimmed hat wearers that wouldn't be the target market for a new vehicle anyway. Last time I went (2 years ago), the Jeep booth was packed with 16 year olds waiting in line to drive one up a hill. Why they were not in school is beyond me, as it was a weekday. I could see why the German marques pulled out of Detroit. The market probably isn't big enough to support the cost of attending the auto show, and the big three have a grip on that market.

  • Civicjohn Civicjohn on May 11, 2018

    The auto shows should steal a page the professional audio organization (AES). We used to have huge $250k recording machines, and $500k mixing consoles, but those days are gone. I remember when the show was at the Hilton in NYC and the union charged us $30k to get a console from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor. I also remember when DAT recorders came out, the union thugs stole everyone of them and then the offered the companies to “find them” for $200 per booth. Miraculously, they showed up the next day. They flip between NYC one year and then roll to the West Coast, flipping between LA and SF. 30 years ago, I had to pickup a bag with sponsors names on it, so that I could grab all of the glossy literature. Of course, now I can see all of the stuff on the company’s website, and if you were trying to evaluate studio monitors (let’s just call them “speakers”), neither Javits Center or Staples Center provided what would be considered an “optimal listening experience”. The whole concept of shows is stupid from a manufacturers perspective. Yes, you can sit in a car, but you can do that at the dealership if the model is ready to ship. As a shareholder of auto shares, I think they should redirect the funds to something semi-local that could be marketed to potential buyers. The data is out there, just ask Facebook.

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