By on June 29, 2018

2018 Lexus LS at NAIAS Front, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

There’s only one more North American International Auto Show to go before America’s premier automotive event trades its bitter winter winds for temperate climes.

After months of rumor and speculation, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association — the organization behind the show — declared Thursday that it will no longer hold the event in January. After the 2019 show, journalists will no longer be able to watch icebergs form on the Detroit River.

Historically, the Detroit show kicked off in winter to boost a slow sales period, with would-be buyers encouraged to think warm thoughts about new cars. The show’s date remained frozen in January for at least half a century.

As competing shows, off-site reveals, and the proliferation of digital media tossed wet blankets on NAIAS from every direction, diminishing the show’s prestige. After the 2018 event, numerous major automakers pulled out, though perhaps on a temporary basis. Organizers reached the conclusion that the event date needed changing. A warmer month and a general rethink of the show was in order.

Yesterday, NAIAS spokesman Max Muncey told The Detroit News that DADA is prepared to make the change official. Organizers will announce the new event date on July 24th. Until then, DADA will only say that the change occurs in 2020, leaving us to speculate whether the new date lies in October or June — two months seen as the most likely candidates.

Some wish to see the event sprawl outside the confines of the riverside Cobo Center and into other Detroit venues. While it’s unknown if NAIAS events will proliferate across the city, it does look like organizers want more outdoor attractions. A teaser video released Thursday focuses on the outdoor space outside the Cobo Center.

It’s also possible the show’s name might not survive the changes, either. According to The Detroit News, a dozen potential new names are in the running.

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12 Comments on “Detroit Auto Show Organizers Make It Official: January’s History...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    Our buddy Peter DeLorenzo has prevailed….along with reason.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Having lived in the greater Detroit area (and having a wife who grew up there and who’s family still resides there), I’d hope they find a way to move it to a more climate-friendly time period. Summers in Michigan are actually rather nice (compared to the oppressive humidity I suffer down south now) and taking the show outside would be kind of neat. That said, I’m not sure how much draw shows like this will have in the future. Most cars are already “revealed” out in the interwebs long before they are seen in person. Also, I’m just not sure the love and thrill of new models is anywhere what it once was. As long as the car has a certain level of tech inside, the rest seems to be immaterial these days…

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      Downtown Detroit in warmer months could be a pretty nice venue. I work downtown Detroit, not in the auto industry mind you, but this city is totally unrecognizable from just 5 or 6 years ago. People literally cannot stop throwing money at downtown development.

      Even so, I think the NAIAS is probably not long for this world. The best way to preserve it, may be to move it to Chicago, New York, etc. I don’t think the captive market of Detroit can sustain it.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I agree. I’ve only been there once, but it was in the summer and it was very comfortable and beautiful.

      I dont know who would think holding a major event like an international auto show in the frozen hellscape of January was the right move, but this seems like a no-brainer.

      I could see other car shows and such revolving around the big show, it could grow to be a major event for the area even after the excitement inside Cobo is over.

  • avatar
    St.George

    Detroit has a long and storied history regarding the automobile industry. How about the show coinciding with other great events such as the Woodward Dream Cruise for example? Some sort of combined ticket with the Henry Ford Museum (amongst others) could draw in crowds also.

    I think that physical auto shows have a future. The ability to sit in, poke & prod and compare all sorts of differing vehicles without the ‘hard sell’ is kinda magical.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Guangzhou has very mild winters and there are never icebergs on the Pearl River. There are 14.5 million people who live there, many of whom built the cars at the show! A virtual stone’s throw from Hong Kong, where auto journos can play on the company dime. A perfect fit. Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    Fred

    So which southern local will try and become the premire winter event?

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    People are wimps. Yeah January is cold. So what. You can appreciate some of the other things in winter. Cities have a completely different feel, and in some ways it can be very nice.

    But I get it. I get the CES. This makes sense.

    I do kinda agree these shows have to change. The unveils don’t really need to be at them anymore. However I do think there is still great value in the experience of them, getting to sit in and see the cars, etc.

    I would definitely go for summer or early fall (say June or September). Michigan is generally fairly pleasant those months, and you avoid the sometimes oppressive humidity of July or August.

    And absolutely tie it in with another event. I like the dream cruise idea. There is the Grand Prix. One year (2017?) there was some sort of electric car race downtown. Detroit has hosted the Red Bull Air Races. Fireworks weekend is also extremely popular.

    Thing is though that I kinda liked January. It stinks outside but that was kinda the pleasure. Get downtown, get in the warmth and bustle that is a contrast to the cold and desolate winter outside, and enjoy some cars. Hit a nice restaurant for dinner. It was a great way to spend a winter day in my opinion. But if you’re catering to journalists, they want the perks I guess.

    And honestly, if you’re trying to get out good word about Detroit in general (DW I’m sure will chime in on this, ha!) nice weather will encourage those same auto journalists to get out and see the city, experience more, see the (for Detroit standards) much improved bustle of people in town, etc. And any mention of the general improvement (in a few areas) in Detroit is good for Detroit, good for Michigan, and good for the Detroit Auto Industry.

  • avatar
    John

    Good heavens – have we reached maximum phony grille yet?

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