Even automakers aren't thrilled.
America has three major annual auto shows and this arrangement has worked just fine for years. The Los Angeles show takes place in late November and New York the following April. Up until 2019, Detroit was held in January though it was re-scheduled for June to avoid the harsh winter. Unfortunately, both Detroit and New York were canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But up until last week, LA 2020 still intended to proceed as planned for November. Now, that show will instead happen in May, sandwiched directly in between NY and Detroit. Needless to say, the organizers for the latter two shows are not happy and, as it turns out, neither are automakers.
The Detroit Free Press has spoken to a few people involved with the shows as well as an unnamed automaker executive about the new schedule and, well, only the LA Auto Show organizers are happy.
"This is not ideal," a senior executive at a major automaker said. "Those are the most important auto shows by far. It'd be challenging to do them all right in such a narrow window. We'll probably have to make some trade-offs."
The previous 11-week gap between New York and Detroit was acceptable to everyone, but LA's sudden disruption will now force both automakers and dealers to pick very selectively. It costs millions for a show display and given the state of the economy, automakers are now running on very tight budgets. What's also interesting, and perhaps a bit ludicrous, is that LA organizers are even considering having a November 2021 show as well. At least one automaker is a firm 'No' on that.
"We had to reiterate to them twice that we weren't doing L.A shows in May and November," a senior source at an automaker said. "We budget one time for L.A. a year. Just one."
But why did LA take so long to make a decision about moving November's show to May in the first place? There is no clear answer, but it's worth bearing in mind that unlike Detroit and New York, the LA show is privately owned whereas other shows are organized by local dealer associations who work closely with automakers.
Basically, LA's move to May comes across as greedy and could ultimately backfire. Why? New York has a huge vehicle market and many media companies, while Detroit is the center of the global auto industry. LA, meanwhile, is logistically inconvenient and expensive, though it was chosen for the reveal of industry heavy-hitters, such as the latest Porsche 911.
For now, LA is still happening this May but given that nothing is for certain anymore, this could very well change.