Detroit auto show moves to June in '20
The Detroit auto show will move out of the cold to June in 2020 — and that has automakers excited.
Show organizers announced at midnight Monday that the 2020 show will begin the week of June 8. The move to a date later in the year is part of an effort to give carmakers a chance to move exhibits and activities outside the walls of Detroit's Cobo Center and into locations around the city and beyond.
“Our show is undergoing its most significant transformation in the last three decades,” Rod Alberts, executive director of the show, said in a statement. “Detroit will continue to be a global stage for some of the world’s most significant and iconic vehicle reveals, and host an unparalleled international audience of media and key industry influencers.”
The Detroit auto show traditionally is held in the cold of January, which limits outdoor exhibits and demonstrations. The Detroit News reported two weeks ago that multiple sources had said the show picked June for 2020.
It's part of an effort to reinvent the Detroit auto show after several global automakers — including Germany's "Big Three" of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — decided to join the exodus from the January 2019 show. Their defections follow other carmakers who have skipped the past couple of shows.
The show envisions big outdoor debuts, test rides, demonstrations of robotic cars and off-road events. Hart Plaza, Detroit RiverWalk, Campus Martius, Woodward Avenue, Grand Circus Park and Belle Isle are possible venues.
Several automakers, including representatives of the Detroit Three, have applauded the decision to move to a warmer month. Global auto shows are battling for relevance, as consumers increasingly find ways to get information about new vehicles outside of traditional auto shows.
Historically, auto shows roll out vehicles onto stands, where they sit for a week. And in January in Detroit, that's all the automakers had any hope to do.
But in June, automakers and show organizers can think a bit more creatively. Some have pointed to England's Goodwood Festival of Speed as possible inspiration. There, automakers race their fastest, most expensive cars, and show off the rest of their lineups on interactive two- and three-story display stands.
Ford Motor Co. even let people jump off the middle floor of its stand there. It's a four-day celebration of British motor sports, and in its 25-year existence, attendance and automaker participation has grown every year, a stark contrast to auto shows from Paris to Detroit.
While consumer attendance in Detroit isn't languishing, automakers in recent years are finding other places to invest. Tying the Detroit show to the Detroit Grand Prix, summer fireworks displays and other June happenings could garner new attention.
"Reinventing NAIAS as a summertime festival of design, speed and innovation is incredibly exciting," said Mark Truby, vice president of communications at Ford. "It will showcase the best of our industry and the best of Detroit, and should become a can’t miss event on the calendar for global automakers and media."
Tony Cervone, senior vice president of communications at General Motors Co. said the show organizers were "thinking big" with the June move.
The Detroit Auto Dealers Association is "really taking advantage of this opportunity to re-imagine the auto show and position Detroit in the best light," Cervone said. "We’re excited to be a part of a festival-like series of events that showcase all the great things that are happening in both the auto industry and Detroit."
The Detroit Auto Dealers Association's teaser video.