Here's Why The Detroit Auto Show May Ditch January For October

Industry News

Better weather is only one reason.

Not long ago we learned that Mercedes-Benz will not be attending the 2019 North American International Auto Show. It may return the following year, but that’s still undecided. It’s not the only automaker no longer coming to the Motor City’s big show. Mini, Mitsubishi, Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Porsche, and Tesla are also on the list. This exodus of major brands rightly troubles show organizers. Something needs to be done.

According to Automotive News and first reported by The Wall Street Journal, show planners are considering moving the show from January back to October. Why? For starters, if you’ve ever been to Detroit in January you’ll know the frigid weather and snow is downright nasty. More importantly, however, is the fact that Detroit is sort of squeezed in between two other major American car shows, Los Angeles in November and New York in March. There’s also the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas only a week before Detroit. Those rival shows consume various product and technology debuts, not to mention media attention.

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Automakers often times have to choose which shows to attend for both product and budgetary reasons. By moving things back a few months to October, various outdoor events, like autonomous driving displays, can be scheduled and Detroit will also be the first major US car show of the year, following only Paris and Frankfurt, which alternate years. Apparently Detroit auto show officials have been considering this move for over a year, and plans are being discussed right now with automakers, suppliers, city officials and, not to mention, the venue itself, Cobo Hall. If show planners do in fact decide to move the show to October, the earliest it’ll happen is 2020.

Nothing is set in stone just yet because, for example, an $11.8 million contract was signed last summer to keep the show running in January until 2025. Switching to October will probably require parts of the contract to be renegotiated. Lastly, having the show in January, just after the Christmas and New Year's holidays, requires vendors and automakers to pay employees overtime in order to get everything ready for the show on time.