By on January 11, 2021

Image: NAIAS

The 2021 Detroit Auto Show has been canceled.

Originally set for summer, then pushed back to September due to COVID concerns, the show has now been binned completely. It’s unclear if that’s just for this year or permanently.

In its place will be a six-day event called “Motor Bella” that will take place in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, at the M1 Grand Concourse private racetrack facility.

The name Motor Bella might sound familiar, as an event under that name was part of the original plans for September. The show was initially scheduled to take place between Sept.  28 and Oct. 9, with a “Motor Bella” listed for Sept. 24-26. Originally, Motor Bella was meant to showcase Italian and British classics and supercars.

Now the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which runs the show, is billing Motor Bella as a “bridge to the future.”

The event is also being said to be hosting new-vehicle debuts. It’s implied that the outdoor venue is being chosen as an alternative to an indoor space.

“The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business,” said Executive Director Rod Alberts in a statement. “This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products. This all-outdoor venue, with adrenaline-pumping track activities and a full complement of OEM and technology exhibits, is going to offer the sights, sounds and even the smell of all that the new world of mobility has to offer.”

There will be press and industry preview days, with the main press day being scheduled for Sept. 21.

It’s unclear what the plans are for 2022 — your author has seen conflicting reports, and the show organizers haven’t said anything about next year. Nor is it clear if the move to ‘burbs is permanent or temporary — or if future shows will combine the use of facilities across the metro area.

The 2021 auto-show season will be a weird one since the pandemic continues unabated. The Chicago Auto Show has already canceled its February dates with a vague promise of moving to spring, while Los Angeles is scheduled for late May this year and New York is set for August. Needless to say, all of those shows are up in the air due to COVID concerns. Much likely depends on the vaccine rollout, as well.

“The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business,” said Executive Director Rod Alberts. “This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products.”

The phrase “bridge to the future” from the press release raises some eyebrows — does it mean the auto-show format will change in a post-COVID world? Even pre-pandemic, there were rumblings about the need for shows to change, especially in how media days are operated, thanks to how online unveilings have changed the industry.

“While auto shows remain an important platform to promote new mobility innovations and to help people make major vehicle purchase decisions, the traditional auto show model is changing,” Alberts said. “We cannot ignore the major disruptions caused by the pandemic and the impact it has had on budgets. As such, we will be providing an amazing experience to the media, the auto industry and the public in a cost-effective way.”

“We see this outdoor experience at M1 as a bridge to the future. One that will continue to evolve as we explore new ways of presenting mobility and as we navigate through these unprecedented times. We are very cognizant of the importance and impact our show and our events have on the state and the entire metro Detroit area. This will always be part of our considerations for the future,” Event chair Doug North said.

We’ll update you with new developments as needed.

[Image: NAIAS]

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12 Comments on “Breaking: 2021 North American International Auto Show Canceled...”


  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I feel like we’re gonna have another six months of punditry about the world never being the same again, followed by the relaxation of social distancing rules as vaccines crush Covid, and everyone going, “Thank goodness that’s over!” and forgetting that 2020-2021 ever happened before rushing back to biz travel, in-person meetings, and huge conventions.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Nope. Congress gave HHS $175 billion to parcel out to hospitals to defray the cost of Covid treatment in March. Less than half has been disbursed, and until the fund runs out, the pandemic will continue.

    • 0 avatar
      CaddyDaddy

      ……gonna have another six months. LOL, that’s a good one. Now that we are one year in, I have heard this a 1000x something is 86’ed. This “lockdown” is a golden means to a consolidation of power to those at the top. Any person who does not see is blind, not in possession of much grey matter or just does not want to deal with reality. The list is big of all the nutty agendas that were binned in the past now being implemented with Dictator like measures under the guise of “emergency powers”.

      • 0 avatar
        islander800

        For the love of Pete, stop with the conspiracy nonsense. This is a REAL pandemic, it is not going away for a long time – even after enough people get vaccinated – and yes, it WILL take lockdowns to prevent a full-blown catastrophe. Listen to the epidemiologists, not crack pot “theorists” you pick up on social media. I think we’ve all had enough of the conspiracy theories and the toxic, corrosive damage they do. Last week should have been enough for everyone who is “not blind” to realize this crap has to stop.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Yes, unfortunately it is real and people are dying, but it will only stop when they decide it will and not before.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Thank you for your professional and highly scientific opinion, Dr. Islander800.

        • 0 avatar
          zerofoo

          “This is a REAL pandemic, it is not going away for a long time – even after enough people get vaccinated”

          Bubonic plague never went away – it’s still with us:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague

          Yet, somehow, we managed to move on from that and many other epidemics and pandemics.

          Communicable disease is part of human existence on planet earth. Once a vaccine is generally available to anyone that wants it, there is no reason to continue with restrictions.

          If you don’t like that risk/reward calculation feel free to stay home.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    The 2021 NAIAS was going to be mostly outside, so I am not sure about the “bridge”. That was one of the reasons stated for moving to a summer date.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business”

    Translation: The show is permanently toast. New car introductions can be done virtually. Today’s auto shows are a vestige of the 50s.

    The ancient dealership model is under threat, too.

    I’ll miss the auto shows for the ability to sit in a wide variety of cars in a single venue without being hounded by a sales rep. Other than that, the shows really only exist for the press and the local vendors.

  • avatar

    There is no going back to “normal”. The second law of thermodynamics, arrow of time, you cannot roll back the clock. Besides everyone sitting at home permanently and shopping/traveling/communicating in virtual world which can be easily censored and tracked, is too convenient for globalist rulers to let COVID-whatever to go away. CPSU could only dream about it and CCP is blessed with Wuhan incident, sorry accident.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree there is no going back to normal and this could be the harbinger of things to come since more things are going to the virtual world. More and more shopping is done online. Indoor shopping malls have been dying for the past 20 years. Buying cars will change as more and more buying will be done online. For the most part there is a lot less excitement about new car releases with the exception of the Mustang Mach E, the Bronco, the Cyber Truck, and the C8 Corvette. Even what we wear has become more relaxed and casual since many of us are working from home.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Meh. I haven’t been to an auto show in decades. From my recollection, the really interesting vehicles were cordoned off from the public. The slightly less interesting ones had people lined up to sit in them. I’m not waiting in line to sit in a car.

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