QOTD: A Show-stopping Virus to Prove Pointlessness?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

The virus that’s on everyone’s lips is having an incredible economic impact throughout the world. Auto shows have thus far been disrupted by the virus outbreak, too, and I’ve begun wondering: At the end of the day, do they actually matter?

As we’ve previously reported on several occasions, manufacturers are set to lose billions of dollars due to COVID-19. People in quarantine don’t head out to their local dealer to buy a new ride. And factories which build cars can’t keep busy if the supply chain is unable to provide parts. So factories become idled. Since people really shouldn’t be gathering in large numbers during an outbreak, auto shows that get the product out in front of the media and consumers are being delayed or cancelled. First to fall was the Geneva show, cancelled at the last minute a couple of weeks ago. The New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) was delayed just yesterday afternoon. It’ll now take place in August, after the newly-retimed North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

But in the end, do the cancellations and delays make a difference in the grand scheme of cars?

In the past, auto shows were a great way to reveal new product and get across information about a brand’s offerings. Here in 2020, new product reveals are often spoiled by leaks, as Ford learned this week with both its upcoming Bronco-badged SUVs. Everybody’s got their own camera and computer in their pocket; they’ve seen the reveal before it happens.

To that point, the necessity of information distribution to the free-shrimp-loving media and buy-your-own public has waned as well. Any consumer can go to an OEM’s website or one of 4,300 car information sites to glean free, detailed information on any model they choose; no need to visit a crowded convention hall and pay for less complete information.

The only benefits still remaining from auto shows are lead generation for dealers, and physical product time for consumers. The former is assuredly much more important than the latter. I think the modern take on an auto show should be the digital-only format approach designated as Plan B by the organizers of the Geneva show. Journalists will be angry when OEMs take away their free booze and trips to the show, but they’ll cover all the new product anyway. And now journalists will use the superior pictures provided by the press kit, instead of their hastily snapped images from between visits to the open bar. Dealers will adjust, and to secure leads might improve the terrible sales tactics and garbage websites they foist upon consumers. OEMs save a lot of money — it’s a win-win.

I think that, in the end, the death of physical auto shows would be a forgettable and seldom-missed blip on the radar. What say you?

[Image: NAIAS]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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  • Dividebytube Dividebytube on Mar 11, 2020

    I've only been to our regional car show, which is a dealer affair. But still, it is nice to actually see the cars closeup, sit in them, and begin dreaming. The last show I went to I noticed that everyone was sports car crazy - even the dated Dodge Challenger had lines of people waiting to sit inside. Complete opposite of reality... ie people still dream of low slung muscle/sports car but the reality appears to be CUV or truck.


    Mrs. F and I went to the Providence (RI) show last month, and walked away with a new pocket flashlight from the Hyundai booth (in exchange for my email address) and an idea of what we will buy when these new cars come off their three-leases. New car prices are just intimidating, regardless of the discounts, and they stifle any desire for conversation with the dealers / reps. So we shall continue to drive our well-maintained 2005 cars until....(?)

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
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