By on December 21, 2021

NAIAS

The Detroit Auto Dealers’ Association recently got some good news. Michigan lawmakers have decided to give them a $9 million grant to put on a Detroit Auto Show — the first since 2019 —  and effectively “reopen” one of the world’s biggest auto shows. And, while it’s good for the dealers, I have to admit that the news has left me angry with rage.

But why? I’m a car person, so I should be happy, right? After all, Detroit is a major show, packed with cool concept cars and big, international reveals. That stuff’s exciting, who wouldn’t want more of that!? But, sitting here and facing down the start of 2022, I can’t get past the feeling that the traditional auto show is dead — and should stay dead.

A LITTLE CONTEXT

The last Detroit Auto Show (Ed. note – there was MotorBella in suburban Detroit this summer – TTAC was there) was held nearly three years ago, in January of 2019 — and to say that the world is in a different place three years on is a bit of an understatement. I’m not just talking about the pandemic, either, which continues to rage on with new variants infecting more and more people daily. I’m not even talking about the shift from internal combustion to battery power that has occurred since (though we’ll explore that here, shortly). What I’m really thinking about is the massive, global push to move businesses online and outdoors on a scale that was unimaginable in the early days of 2019 — and traditional auto shows, being both in-person and indoors, seem like a relic of the past.

Think about it. Even if you’re vaxxed, waxed, and ready to party yourself, the thought of climbing into a car behind little Billy and the snotty little hands he’s been rubbing all over the steering wheel probably doesn’t seem as appealing as it once did, does it? Heck, I wasn’t too crazy about that kind of thing before I realized that kind of thing could kill me – now? No, thanks.

Even assuming there’s zero risk, why would I brave the crowds just to sit in a static car? Especially in 2022, when so much the “experience” of a new car is wrapped up in its software? How do you interact with the dash? The nav? How do the speakers sound with your playlist? How does the electric steering feel? How much of that could you experience at the last auto show you went to?

Then there’s the issue of Detroit, itself. Sure, it has a great history, but even GM seems ready to bail. Help me understand, then, why the ever-dwindling population of Detroit — less than 675,000 people in 2019, and shrinking — should be happy to watch nine million of its tax dollars get funneled to car dealers to help them put on a show that was already dying before the pandemic.

For those of you who haven’t seen Detroit’s scorecard for a few years, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Mitsubishi, Porsche, and Volvo had already pulled out of the Detroit Auto Show by the time 2019 rolled around, prompting show management to rethink the event’s traditional January date and toy with the idea of a June 2020 event.

“This is the last Detroit Auto Show that’s taking place in the winter,” Julie Blackley, communications manager at automotive data firm iSeeCars, told CNBC. “The only European brand with a booth is Volkswagen, so there isn’t as much hype around this show as in previous years.”

Indeed, there seemed to be some genuine optimism surrounding the planned move from everyone.

“June will allow us to better showcase the automotive leadership, development and heritage our great city and region holds,” offered Doug North, President of the Detroit Auto Dealers’ Association (DADA).

You already know how that turned out.

A LOT OF DISCLAIMER

There are lots of reasons I find myself baffled by the city’s decision to give DADA what amounts to something like $25-30 per Detroit taxpayer to hold an auto show in 2022. First, as an “oldest child” I am obsessed with the concept of “fairness”, so if you’re going to take $20 out of my pocket against my will to put on a puppet show you’d better not be expecting me to pay another $20 to sit through said puppet show. That’s one.

“Two” is the basic fact that traditional auto shows don’t really serve their stated purpose anymore. Even when the manufacturers still manage to pull the covers off a vehicle that’s a genuine surprise, a consumer can probably find out everything they want to know about it in less time than it takes to walk across Cobo Hall Huntington Place.

Even without COVID, don’t the people of Detroit deserve to see that $9 million go to … I dunno, lead-free drinking water? Or do you think the taxpayers of Detroit, who are effectively being forced to help local car dealers advertise to them, are cool with it?

I can’t imagine.

Still, I should point out here that I might, just possibly, be a teeny-bit jealous of DADA and their big-money grant, because I kiiind of have my own “auto show” thing happening. It’s called the Electrify Expo, and this past summer some 50,000 people came to our outdoor “emobility festival” to check out new plug-in cars from brands like – well, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Porsche, and Volvo, to pick just from the brands that decided to skip Detroit.  In addition to being outdoors, the shows traded the echoing scatter of ambient show noise with DJs and live music and skipped the overpriced hot dogs and pretzels in favor of local food trucks, but the biggest difference was that almost every brand that showed up brought cars with them — cars you could actually drive at the show.

I have my own ideas about why that show works in 2021 (and, hopefully, beyond) while traditional auto shows don’t. I think it has something to do with a focus on mobility, vs. cars — but, regardless, the team behind Electrify put on three different outdoor events, in three different markets, without forcing a $9 million tax bill onto the citizens of Detroit.

You’re the Best and Brightest, however, and I know that I can count on you to apply the appropriate amount of salt to my “truths” here and see things logically. As such, I ask you: are the people of Michigan getting a good deal for their tax money here, or are the Detroit car dealers taking them for yet another ride?

[Image: NAIAS]

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60 Comments on “Opinion: Detroit Auto Show Waste of Taxpayer Money...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m going to take you at your word sir, so my advice is this: kill your TV.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Aaaaand this is why people don’t trust government. The grift is no longer limited to smoke filled back rooms. Like Electrify Expo, it’s out in the open.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, but the reason governments do this isn’t to sow distrust among taxpayers – it’s to make money to fund stuff the taxpayers want them to do. The only other way they can do that is to go to the taxpayers and ask for it; we both know how that usually goes. So they do deals like this and tell the taxpayers “your taxes didn’t go up.”

      Governments have done plenty to earn the distrust you’re talking about, but this is how they raise money now.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    I think people need to get out to real events again and live more normally. The last few years has turned a lot of people into agoraphobic weirdos. It would also be nice to see if auto shows were as bad as I remember because these video debuts are often genuinely sad. But you’re right about the city using funding irresponsibly and the pre-pandemic trend of automakers snubbing events. Maybe it’s not worth trying to bring them back, especially if the solution requires goosing the tax base.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      But what about the SuPeR dUpEr ScArY nEw VaRiAnT that we need to be triple boosted from the non vaccines that don’t curb the spread, etc etc?

      Fear porn aside, you are exactly right. We need to start living normally again. But that would require the installed administration to admit that it’s not as bad as they continue to tell us and that will not happen.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      But what about the SuPeR dUpEr ScArY nEw VaRiAnT that we need to be triple boosted from the non vaccines that don’t curb the spread, etc etc?

      Fear porn aside, you are exactly right. We need to start living normally again. But that would require the installed administration to admit that it’s not as bad as they continue to tell us and that will not happen.

  • avatar

    Sorry, I have to strongly disagree here. The auto show is the one thing that many of us here in SE Michigan look forward to every year. From 2000-2019, I never missed a show. Online introductions are frankly boring, I want to be a part of the action. Ride and drives are fun, but the wait times can be time consuming, and I like getting to actually sit in the cars, examine the details, feel the materials, and take in the overall aesthetic that the automaker is trying to create for the brand with the display. And then there are the photo opportunities. I love taking pics of cars, as they provide content for my little Facebook car group. Lastly, it’s a great time for me and some friends to plan a day together, take in the sights of the city, and then go for Chinese food after.

    But that’s just me.

    • 0 avatar
      aja8888

      Agree, a group of us from all over the country used to meet at the Detroit show for a week of good times and camaraderie. Seeing and experiencing the cars in person was great fun and we as a group had a lot of good times outside of the show. It’s a shame people think computer stuff in a car is what it is about.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Jo JO Jo, one doesn’t have to be best and brightest to pick your story apart, even dumb and dumber can do that. Allow me to expand…

    First, you must be part of generation too scared to get out there and interact. May be generation Millennial? Z? You tell me. Certainly any one scared of sitting behind a sneezing kid in a auto show can’t be a baby boomer or greatest generation (Generation X is irrelevant because they just follow, don’t lead).

    Inside your diatribe of an article, are references to why would one wants to experience things first hand? Your logic: internet. Internet is an enabler. It is not an end. It is why most people in this world insist on a test drive before making purchase. An auto show is first step where one can see and experience first step of a test drive. TOUCHING and SITTING and SEEING IN PERSON. Capeesh?

    But then near end of your article you try to redeem yourself about some e-mobility show with some auto makers participating, outdoorsy, with live music. None of that is wrong. Or ability to test drive. But first, an auto show can not humanly enable test drives for all participants or it has to be ginormous. No one has all those resources. Second, up north it gets cold. Heck in Atlanta this time of year is cold. No one wants to spend time outside. Be serious.

    The sad thing about you and your generation, is fear. FEAR of participating with other humans. Fear of interaction. Fear of going to Ace Hardware and ask a question and get beautiful help. Instead, you rather buy Chinese junk with no knowledge from Amazon.

    I hope you grow up.

    • 0 avatar

      #triggered

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Certainly any one scared of sitting behind a sneezing kid in a auto show can’t be a baby boomer or greatest generation…”

      You mean, like my ex-father in law, who was born in the ’30s, and was an Army vet? I’d say you should ask him how he felt about that sort of thing, but then again, you’d need a Quija board or a lifetime membership to the Psychic Friends Network, because he died…of COVID.

      You could ask my mom, who’s triple-vaxxed and was born in ’40, but she’s busy giving s*it to the other geezers who refuse to mask up at the grocery store. And, yeah, she’d rather not be around anyone who’s symptomatic because she watches my nieces, whose dad (my brother) is a Hodgkin’s survivor who’s immuno-compromised. Clearly she has zero idea what freedom is. She’s also a lifelong Republican who voted for Trump twice, by the way, and you should be grateful for her presence in your party, as it raises the average IQ considerably. And if you told her she was being silly…well, let’s just say she’d be a lot less polite to you than I’m being. She doesn’t mince words well.

      And I won’t either: YOU grow up.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Lol, this all makes sense now. You are the son of a Karen who won’t mind her own business.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        @FreedMike: Our stories of friends and family who died of Covid are irrelevant to the True Freedom Lovers.

        One of my friends who died of Covid was a virus/vax denier, apparently willing to die for the cause of freedom from government tyranny.

        I don’t care any more, since everyone has their mind made up. Go ahead and get sick and die from Covid; the Obamacare death panel should refuse you hospital admission if you refused to prevent your own illness.

        • 0 avatar
          teddyc73

          @ SCE to AUX No, they aren’t irrelevant. We have sympathy and compassion for people who have lost loved ones due to any reason. However, I am no going to curtail my freedoms because I may or may not give someone a virus. COVID has an extremely high survival rate. Yes, people have died but the percentage is extremely low. Why don’t we have such extreme measures for other things? Sorry, once you allow government to curtail or take away freedoms you don’t get them back.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “However, I am no going to curtail my freedoms because I may or may not give someone a virus.”

            Translated: my freedom is more important than my fellow citizens’ health. I’ll just let that statement speak for itself.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            @teddyc73:

            You’ve employed the common argument of a “high survival rate” for Covid, but that is flawed:

            – 98% is a high survival rate for a grenade attack, but not many illnesses. Smallpox had a 99% survival rate. The Space Shuttle had a survival rate of 98.5%. Most other activities in life have a survival rate out to 4 or 5 nines.

            – Surviving Covid isn’t always fun. Lots of people have lingering symptoms for months, including physical or sensory disablement.

            – Your rights don’t extend to negligently placing others at risk.

            – The government routinely curtails freedoms for a while, and then you get them back. Try having a picnic on a rubble pile after a building collapse – the authorities will chase you away because it is a disaster area.
            During WW2, East Coast drivers had to drive with dimmed headlights to reduce visibility to would-be attackers. That was for the common good, but it wasn’t communism. Wartime Blackout rules were even more important for the British.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @SCE:

          I don’t agree at all with refusing hospital admission to crash test dummies…whoops, I mean the vaxx deniers. With rare exceptions, I’d classify being anti-vax as being monumentally irresponsible, but so is smoking. Should we tell a smoker who develops COPD, emphysema or lung cancer when he shows up to the hospital? Should we turn away a drunk driver after he wrecks his car? Should we give the finger to some kid who burns himself launching bottle rockets out of his butt?

          That would be immoral.

          Unfortunately, there’s only so much you can do with someone who’s decided to be a kamikaze…I mean, vax denier. All you can do is hope that the stories of people not being responsible with their own health convince others to get with the damn program.

          • 0 avatar
            teddyc73

            @FreedMike I am amused at your assumption that not getting the vaccine is somehow a certain death sentence. You do know COVID has an extremely high survival rate right? You do know that vaccinated people have died from COVID right? I am not being monumentally irresponsible. I am using my God given rights and freedoms to make a decision for myself.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            @FreedMike (12:09 post):

            I agree with you completely on hospital admissions. That’s the conundrum with any health care system, and the medical community has a moral obligation to treat anyone with need.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “That’s the conundrum with any health care system, and the medical community has a moral obligation to treat anyone with need.”

            @SCE to AUX – The reason for public restrictions along with mask mandates and now vaccine mandates is to prevent the healthcare system from being overwhelmed. That has occurred briefly in the USA and to a lesser degree in Canada.

            If the healthcare system gets to the point where we no longer have capacity to treat then one has to triage those in the system and those entering the system.
            I’ll provide a few examples:

            1. If you happen to be 90 years old with COPD and heart disease from a 2 pack a day cigarette habit over 75 years, you’ll get bumped to the back of the line or get removed from advanced life support if there are more viable patients. This example isn’t all that controversial for most people. (Overwhelmed system)
            This one is:
            Triage could extend to unvaccinated patients. If you contract COVID-19 disease and an overwhelmed system has to chose between an unvaccinated person with a lower survival rate and higher duration of treatment or a vaccinated person with a higher survival rate and lower length of stay, the rules of triage would have to apply. “Do the greatest amount of good for the largest amount of people.”
            An overwhelmed system does not follow a “1st come 1st serve rule”.

      • 0 avatar
        teddyc73

        @FreedMike Your ex-father in law died of COVID and he was only 81 to 90 years old! Wow, so young. Sorry for your loss.

        I would love to run into your sanctimonious mother. I would love for her to confront me over my lack of a mask. Taking precautions for the reasons you state is a perfectly wise thing for her to do. Good, great, wonderful. People for whom COVID presents a risk SHOULD take precautions, any they feel they should. However, I am not going to live my life, curtail my freedoms or alter my lifestyle because of your family or anyone else, especially over a virus with an extremely high survival rate. I’m sorry, freedoms and rights override everything. That doesn’t make me a bad human being. It makes me a free human being. One who uses common sense. Because once you take freedoms away and give all this power to government it will never change back. I voted for Trump twice, what did that do to the average IQ? Voting for Biden, a man who clearly has dementia, somehow indicates a higher IQ?

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @teddy:

          No, I didn’t say not taking the vaccine is a certain death sentence. You put those words right into my mouth.

          But then again, I’m dealing with someone who called my mom names, and mocked the death of someone who my kids cared for very much because he was old…all over the Internet, of course.

          Perhaps I should consider the source?

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          “Freedom and rights” do not override everything.

          That is why there are laws. Every law curtails your freedom and rights to some degree. That is how society operates. Your rights end, when they threaten the rights or health of someone else.

          Remember that your belief is what is termed as anarchy. And many of the Bolsheviks were influenced by anarchists.

      • 0 avatar
        aja8888

        One of these days you will realize (I hope) that Republicans and Democrats are one in the same with their goals and money grabbing ambitions (it’s really not about the general public at all). And not all old folks are not like the ones in your family.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “I hope you grow up.”

      When I grow up, I’ll be stable.

      When I grow up, I’ll turn the tables.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “The sad thing about you and your generation, is fear. FEAR of participating with other humans. Fear of interaction. Fear of going to Ace Hardware and ask a question and get beautiful help. Instead, you rather buy Chinese junk with no knowledge from Amazon.”

      but…but…REVIEWS!

      anyway, you nailed it. 100%.

    • 0 avatar
      JD-Shifty

      “First, you must be part of generation too scared to get out there and interact. ”

      Like the ones hiding under the bed watching fox news getting all ginned up about “the other”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Generation X is irrelevant because they just follow, don’t lead”

      Uh, I kinda want to show you some irrelevancy with a tire iron.

      Though on second thought…

      Whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Your words are a bit harsh, but I agree with the overall sentiment that nothing compares to actually being there. Personally, I cannot imagine buy a car without driving it. You learn about little things that can be show stoppers, like the way the seat belt cuts into your neck.

      At the same time, a big shoutout to Jo Borras for his or her restrained comment to your post.

    • 0 avatar
      teddyc73

      @pmirp1 Thank you. I was just about to post pretty much the exact same thing.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I enjoy going to auto shows. Even if they are indoors and even if Volvo doesn’t attend.

    I don’t know if the Detroit show is worth $9M in bailouts but I’m not a Michigan resident so it isn’t my circus.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    European cars are the best. Driven by the best people. A car show without European cars is no car show at all.

    @Jo Borrás, you are correct – about everything. Here is a cookie topped with a big scoop of Validation. (They were out of unicorn sprinkles this year, so sorry.)

    [I am sorry big bad scary Detroit tried to steal from you.]

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Meh. State and local governments engage in economic development activities all the time. It’s part of their mission. You can say that the auto show won’t have lasting benefits or that it would be better to focus on local people rather than tourists, but those things are debatable and I can’t get too mad about a state government doing a standard state government thing.

    (Oh wait… that state government is controlled by demon rats? Oh, then it’s my duty to complain about it.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    We can complain all we want about municipalities doling out money for things like this, but the bottom line is this: if they’re putting $9,000,000 in the pot, it’s because they think they’ll get $9,000,001 back. Not the taxation model I like, but that’s what’s going on.

    Having said that, though, I agree with Jo – auto shows were become steadily less significant before the pandemic hit, and thus less appealing. And why were they less appealing? A big piece of it was losing the European manufacturers – those guys make the bulk of the cool enthusiast cars these days, so not having those examples leaves you with what – 60 CUVs, 20 trucks, no concept cars, and a Corvette and Mustang that have throngs of people around them? Hell, they even took away the hot presenters. How grand.

    And I don’t think outdoor auto shows will work – Denver held one last summer, but in the end, it was the boring product mix I was talking about, and those cars would have been sitting outside in 95-degree heat all day. If I want to take a shvitz, I’ll go to a sauna, thanks. And then there’s the “pandemic question.” All this for $20? Hard pass.

    I think that if auto shows are to survive, they need to be more targeted at the people who actually buy cars, and provide a driving experience of some kind.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      I think this is the primary driver behind any taxpayer money in this case. Detroit has a history of conditional support for such endeavors as well. Taking the money means you have to hire so many Detroit residents, use Detroit based contractors, minority owned contractors, etc.

      Detroit (at least the downtown and riverfront areas) is a very different place than it was 10 years ago. COVID has slowed and maybe even had a negative effect on new business and development, but there is a definite positive for the city in showcasing the good things that have happened over the last decade, showcasing the city in general in a positive light. This is the sort of national/international marketing that governments are really charged with by voters. I don’t know if they will get all $9mil back in tax revenue, but it is an investment. I would rather live in a place making those investments than a place stuck in time.

      On the other hand, I am also a resident of SE Michigan. The automakers are making record profits, franchise dealers are making record profits even with no inventory. I think the question has to be raised as to why they aren’t paying for it? I will just add as an aside…..an auto show made up primarily of American pickups and SUVs……no thanks. I am falling asleep just thinking about it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dartdude

      I disagree with you on municipalities trying to make a buck on a event. We know from experience that most people are tighter with their own money than strangers are. Govts don’t care about spending your money. In fact they enjoy spending your money on stuff that makes their lives better.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Dartdude:

        From a city’s perspective, an event like this is a revenue generator. People come into the city and spend money at hotels and restaurants (and in Detroit’s case, casinos). This generates tax revenue without going to the taxpayers and asking for the money.

        I would agree it’s a back-as*wards way of generating tax revenue, but if the city goes to the taxpayers and says, “hey, guys, we need ABC dollars to do XYZ,” what are the voters going to say? We both know how that movie ends.

        So, this is the way cities, counties and even states do things.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I don’t support tax dollars going to such an enterprise. What is the expected return on investment? As pointed out, if 1/2 of the car makers aren’t attending, then what’s the point?

    I do agree with Mr. Borras in relation to the relative risk of infection. It’s a human petri dish. As long as SARS-CoV-2 gets to replicate at a rapid rate then the risk of mutation remains high. That’s much more likely to occur with increased transmission primarily in unvaccinated populations where the viral load is at its highest.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    I think what we’ve learned lately, and was becoming more aware before covid hit, was that the manufactures like to feel special and in control of the information flow and the traditional auto shows don’t give them that control. I used to trek to Detroit for all the new reveals but the quality of the internet has made that process superfluous.

    I used to go to more NFL games too, but the food and amenities and replay support you get at home are good enough to skip the couple of big plays that are cool to capture live.

    I see the events becoming more dealer/regional – which is fine as it gives me a chance to see what cars I don’t fit in (I’m looking at you Honda/Acura)

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I agree. In my town we used to have a “mega sale” where all of the car dealers in town set up shop at the local fairgrounds/multiplex arena. It was great since they brought the bulk of their inventories to the show. It increased competition since they were all in one place. You got to check everything out. They stopped doing it “pre-COVID”.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The NFL has officially priced me out – ticket costs are OUTRAGEOUS. Here in Denver, even with the Broncos being bad-to-mediocre in recent years, it would cost $500, minimum, to take a family of four to a game and eat something. A few years ago, when the team was good, it was probably twice that, assuming you could actually get tickets. That’s nuts.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The worst thing here? That the big draw with the cars is the software and related stuff. Ugh. What happened to style, power, performance?

    FTR, I miss real car shows! Never thought about the viral/bacterial issue with them. I guess if you have held onto a subway pole, some kid’s grubby mitts don’t seem so bad. Tax dollars, however, should not be spent on them.

  • avatar
    BSttac

    Ridiculous. Good thing those roads in Detroit are perfect and couldn’t use any of this money for the repairs. There’s a reason why Detroit will always be the armpit of the US. Car dealerships chief among them

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Random thoughts:

    * I’d rather see a few mil spent on an auto show than a billion on some BS football or baseball stadium so a bunch of clowns can run around in their Nike pajamas.

    * The auto industry and Detroit auto dealers have paid a fortune in taxes to Detroit and Michigan over the years. A little money going the other way is fine.

    * Marketing execs are all moist about digital these days. Well, I’m not dropping tens of thousands or a hundred thousand dollars based on a bunch of emails or a PDF. Car shows matter. No, they’re not instantly measurable but they’re far more effective than the MBA spreadsheet jockeys realize. They’ll be back. The buzzwords will be something like experiential or immersive marketing but they’ll be back.

    * If GM says not to do something do the opposite. Those idiots can’t sell igloos to whoever lives north of Alberta these days.

    * Wow, an EV only car show. Yawn. What did the Birkenstock booth look like? Did they throw in socks with separate toes with each purchase?

    * Screw the European manufacturers. If you need to blow massive amounts of dough on something stupid like a bug infested Land Rover, goofy looking Kardashianwagen, or a grotesque BMW with a grille big enough to strain all the turds out of the effluent passing through the Los Angeles sewage system — then the only point you’re making is you’ve signed up for a really big monthly payment instead of saving for retirement.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    I respectfully disagree.
    Autoshows are important as a 1st hand experience with a car you’re looking forward to drive/own as you can sit in them, test most of its features and sometimes even test drive them. And video unveilings or walk arounds won’t replace that.

    Online shopping may be booming for a few years already but a car purchasing experience is nothing like getting a piece of clothing or cordless tool. Those have the benefit of easy to return if it doesn’t work for you, so you don’t actually need to feel it or test it beforehand.

    A vehicle can’t be returned unless there’s something terribly wrong to lemon law the thing.

    About the $9M question:
    Yes, it’s lots of tax payer money that could go elsewhere but the flipside is both the autoshow and local businesses will benefit from the locals and tourists. Hotels, restaurants/bars, parking facilities, you name it… they all get benefitted if this autoshow happens.

    Too bad about most European automakers abandoning DAS, even my nearest autoshow (LA) hosted most European brands except Volvo when I last attended in 2019.
    I sincerely believe autoshows are still a thing and can be executed in a more or less safe way even through these COVID times.

    Mandate face masks, a vaccination record and/or COVID test 72 hours before the event.

  • avatar

    My solution to those who are afraid attending Detroit Auto Show – wear spacesuit with oxygen tank. And may the Force be with you.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    The role of government in the U.S. is simple. Take money from people who earn it and give it to people who don’t. The two party system ensures this will be the case until the governing elite run out of other peoples money. So for now our elected dirtbags (Democrat and Republican) give billions to billionaires, millions to millionaires and crumbs to the able bodied poor who refuse to work. When the music stops grab a chair.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I used to help organize the largest trade show of its kind in Canada. We largely featured industrial equipment such as forklifts/towmotors/industrial lifting devices, conveyors, racking, etc.

    ‘Test driving’ one of these under realistic conditions is more important than test driving a car. And it is also more difficult logistically, as few manufacturers will bring one of these vehicles to your facility to let you try it out.

    This trade show ‘expired’ around the same time as the ‘Great Recession’ took hold. Companies cut travel budgets. Our sponsorships diminished. And we realized just how much we depended on government ‘largesse’.

    In my personal opinion, car shows are largely irrelevant. Primarily a smooze fest for ‘auto journalists’.

    And governments should stop spending money on ‘corporate welfare’.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    We get the Motor Trend car show in D.C. It’s usually their last show on the schedule so the booth people usually know its the end and are pretty loose. It allows people to look at cars they can never afford. It even allows children of all ages to get their picture taken in a new Corvette. I usually go to look at one or two vehicles. Most SUVs and trucks? Hard pass, Detroit has been doing body on frame since the Model T came out. I realize, and am usually behind, those who take the whole family and spend all day at the auto show. It’s still a chance to sit in the car I’m thinking about buying and see how it fits. Why take the train downtown, pay 8 buck for a soda, and stop somewhere on the way home to eat? Foursquare Larry and Cokey, his sales manager are desperately hoping one of the show reps got my info and I’ll be heading their way. Not. No listening to ole Foursquare, no getting a phone call every day for the next 45 days.

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