Ticketed Detroit auto show attendance down from last year

The Detroit News
People can build Lego figures at the Ford display at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit on Jan. 20, 2019.

The Detroit auto show finished its 16-day run Sunday with an additional 100,000 attendees, bringing the overall ticketed attendance total for the show to 774,179.

That is about 35,000 fewer visitors than the North American International Auto Show drew in 2018.

NAIAS Chairman Bill Golling said he was pleased with the numbers. 

"Detroit displayed every facet of the mobility industry over the past two weeks, welcoming visitors from across the globe,” Golling said in a statement. “From startups showcasing their innovative technologies to executive discussions on a driverless future to industry giants standing on the world stage revealing brand-defining products and technologies, NAIAS was an incredible platform for one of the most exciting times in the history of our industry.”

The first Saturday of the public show saw a major snowstorm in Metro Detroit. Attendance for the opening weekend was down 33,000 compared to 2018. 

With the auto show moving to June next year, it remains to be seen whether that will give show attendance a boost. 

David Sowerby, managing director of Ancora, said the show this year had an estimated economic impact on the regional economy of $430 million. That's the equivalent to holding nearly two NFL Super Bowls a year in Detroit, he said.

The entire auto show encompassed six different events. 

It started with The Gallery, in its 13th year and attracting over 500 attendees. That show featured a $10 million collection of some of the most exclusive automobiles in the world, including the debut of the first SUV made by Rolls-Royce

AutoMobili-D expanded in its second year with a 46 percent increase in exhibitors. The mobility showcase featured nearly 215 different brands with 65 startups, global automakers, suppliers, universities and government organizations, organizers said. 

For the two press preview days, NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts said there were more than 4,568 journalists credentialed from 60 countries. During those days, 44 vehicles were revealed, including 31 world debuts, Alberts said. 

After that, 35,185 automotive and mobility experts and innovators from nearly 2,000 companies attended the industry preview portion of the show, organizers said.

The pre-show activities ended with the black tie Charity Preview, with more than 10,000 in attendance, raising over $4 million for children's charities in southeast Michigan.