Seismic Shift: Detroit Auto Show Moves to June

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

The world’s automotive press can pack away their parkas after next year’s North American International Auto Show. In 2020, the circus will move to the month of June.

This was not wholly unexpected. Pressure was mounting for NAIAS to re-invent itself, given a recent flight of manufacturers and increased competition from other events — automotive and otherwise.

June is a sound choice. The ability for participating brands to deliver dynamic exhibits instead of traditional static displays will engage show attendees in a way the party at Cobo Hall never could. With Michigan’s crippling Hoth-like January weather no longer a concern, opportunities abound for OEMs to showcase their wares outside of the show’s four walls.

“Our show is undergoing its most significant transformation in the last three decades,” said Rod Alberts, Executive Director of NAIAS. “Detroit will continue to be a global stage for some of the world’s most significant vehicle reveals and host an unparalleled international audience of media and key industry influencers.”

Costs for manufacturers could go down, as well. As it stands, the annual party in Detroit ain’t cheap. Estimates peg the investment by manufacturers who choose to attend NAIAS well into the millions of dollars — an increasingly tough sell in an age where budgets are tight and competition for attention is fierce. Germany’s Big Three won’t be at the 2019 soirée, joining Mazda, Volvo, Porsche, and JLR as companies not making the pilgrimage to Detroit in 2019.

There was a time when manufacturers tried to outdo each other with reveal stunts, including the crew from Jeep driving a then-new Grand Cherokee down Jefferson Avenue before driving up a staircase and crashing through a plate glass window.

NAIAS has recently found itself at a disadvantage, all thanks to automakers who are increasingly revealing new vehicles and concept cars at the L.A. show (about a month prior), an event which has enjoyed renewed relevance after moving itself across the calendar. Automaker presence has also skyrocketed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, held around the same time in January. Here, companies are ramping up announcement tied to hands-free driving assists plus in-car technology and other connectivity gear.

The new show envisions big outdoor debuts, test rides, and off-road events. Places like Hart Plaza, Detroit RiverWalk, and Grand Circus Park are touted as possible venues for outdoor events. Its timing should pair nicely with the Detroit Grand Prix and 4th of July celebrations as well, not to mention the Woodward Dream Cruise later in the summer.

The show is run by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and its Executive Board. Organizers announced this morning that the first summer show will be held during the week of June 8th, 2020.

[Images: NAIAS]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Fred Fred on Jul 23, 2018

    I went to too many conventions in Chicago during the winter. I'm sure Detroit is just as bad. On the other hand, New Orleans and Miami are no fun in the summer. Actually New Orleans is always fun.

  • Arach Arach on Jul 24, 2018

    I'll go against the curve and say its a mistake. I have been a speaker at the NAIAS, and been there many many years. The thing of beauty for it is that it is the START of the auto year. ITs like being the season opener for the NFL or MLB. Now they will just be another random auto show with little relevance. It would only make sense to do this if they really were no longer relevant... But maybe thats what its come to

  • Bd2 I wonder how TTAC is celebrating this JuneTeenth? Rolling around naked in hyundai flavored mud somewhere like they usually do?
  • Wjtinfwb I'd like to see a Ford/Mazda relationship restarted. Both companies have some car guys keeping the flame alive and could develop a sports car slightly bigger than a Miata and pick and choose from each other's parts bin to put together some attractive powertrain combo's. Even a Mazda 3 AWD with the 300HP EcoBoost 2.3L, manual and AWD from the Focus RS would be welcome. Even better, a factory Miata V8 with the 480 HP Coyote (i know it wont fit...) and a manual gearbox. And how about a CX-5 with a 2.7L EcoBoost V6 with AWD and an chassis tuned for sport. Lots of possibilities.
  • Blueice Patient 28, sorry, but it is Oktoberfest. Bring a kegof Kraut beer and we will 50% you.
  • Bd2 Probably Toyota, Hyundai is killing them these days.
  • Wolfwagen If Isuzu could update this truck and keep the cost between $25K - $30K they would sell like ice pops on dollar day in a heat wave.