New York Auto Show canceled; Metro Detroit event still on track

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — New York International Automobile Show officials canceled the event out of COVID concerns Wednesday — just two weeks before its scheduled dates — but Metro Detroit's outdoor Motor Bella is still on track for next month.  

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association earlier this year canceled its North American International Auto Show to avoid hosting an indoor gathering with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging. Instead, the dealer group is hosting Motor Bella at M1 Concourse in Pontiac Sept. 21 through Sept. 26, and starting tomorrow has a Motor City Car Crawl event planned with the Downtown Detroit Partnership that features about 50 vehicles at six downtown parks.

"With the vast majority of Motor Bella taking place outdoors at the 87-acre M1 Concourse through interactive displays and on-track and off-road demonstrations from global automakers, suppliers and technology companies, we believe Motor Bella provides a blueprint for future mobility events," the Detroit Auto Dealers said in a statement Wednesday, adding that if automakers wanted to reschedule their New York Auto Show events "we will work to accommodate them."

While event organizers and automakers alike were eager to revive auto shows after canceling and delaying them in 2020, those hopes were dashed because of the resurgence of COVID-19 with the new, more contagious delta variant.   

"As custodians of the 121-year-old New York Auto Show, we are committed to providing a safe environment for everyone including attendees, exhibitors, and the thousands of men and women who put the show together," New York Auto Show President Mark Schienberg said in a statement. "Over the past few weeks, and especially within the last few days, circumstances have changed making it more difficult to create an event at the high standard that we and our clients expect."

The move to cancel the New York show comes after local officials on Tuesday said proof of COVID-19 vaccination would be required at restaurants, gyms and other businesses. 

It also comes after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week advised that even vaccinated individuals mask up when going indoors in areas with substantial or high transmission rates. 

The cancellation will mean automakers will have to find new ways for consumers to see and experience their latest products, which they've already been doing virtually for more than a year. 

General Motors Co. didn't have any reveals planned for the New York Auto Show, but the Chevrolet brand was going to have a presence there, spokesman Sabin Blake said: "We follow the science and we follow local health officials and all that, so we are completely supportive and aligned with the need to cancel."

Stellantis NV's Jeep was slated to show its next-generation Grand Cherokee SUV at the event running Aug. 20 to Aug. 29. It teased a photo of the fifth generation of Jeep's most popular SUV during its EV Day last month.

"The COVID pandemic has challenged our city, the country and the entire world, but just like the automobile industry, we know that the New York Auto Show will rebound and be bigger and better than before," Schienberg said. "We firmly believe that will be the case when the Show returns to its regular spring schedule in April 2022."

Staff writer Breana Noble contributed.

Twitter: @bykaleahall