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Mercedes-Benz CEO Admits Skipping Detroit 2019 Was A Painful Decision

Industry News / 2 Comments

Fortunately, a 2020 return is likely.

A few weeks ago we learned Mercedes-Benz will not be coming to the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. Although it's still nearly a year away, the fact that Mercedes, which normally has a large display at Detroit, is skipping the Motor City is kind of a big deal. It has added itself to the list of automakers, such as Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Volvo, and Porsche, who feel Detroit is not worth their time and money. Speaking to Automotive News, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche admitted the decision to bail was not an easy one for him, but it was right business call.

"I shouldn't even have to answer the question; of course, it was," said Zetsche. "And of course, (the decision) was not primarily made by me, but finally, I had to follow the rationale." What as that rational? Mercedes is not scheduled to have a major debut that coincides with Detroit, unlike this year with the unveiling of the all-new G-Class SUV. Why spend millions on an auto show with nothing substantial to show? Fortunately, Zetsche is keeping the door open for a Motor City return, perhaps as soon as 2020. "This is not about the Detroit auto show; it's about the 2019 auto show," he said. In 2019, given the activities we were planning, given the cadence of the product launches, there was just no meaningful fit.

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"But I very much expect in 2020 we will be back with some product launches." Mercedes, like all other automakers, is experimenting with alternative methods on how to unveil all-new models. For example, it hosted the Me Convention last fall at Frankfurt as well as at the South by Southwest music and tech festival in Austin, Texas. There was a time when major auto shows were the main, and really only format, for automakers to reveal their latest vehicles. Today, however, a little thing called the internet exists, allowing for automakers to directly target audiences whenever they want. Combined with vehicles and technology merging together, tech shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) have also become appropriate formats.