Will other automakers also ditch the Motor City?
According to a new report from Automotive News, Mercedes-Benz is set to withdraw from the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. Porsche, Jaguar Land Rover, Volvo and Mazda have all been no-shows at Detroit for various lengths of time now, and Mercedes could be set to join them. The reason? It’s very expensive to display at these shows, and sometimes the expenses involved are not worth it, marketing wise. Just last month, however, the all-new Mercedes-Benz G-Class was revealed at Detroit in a grand spectacle.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, was brought in specifically to be part of the G-Class premiere. While Mercedes has yet to make an official announcement regarding next year’s Motor City show, it currently does not sound too promising. We have to look at whether a trade show like Detroit fits with the cadence of our launch calendar and whether there's a more effective format for our needs," said a senior Mercedes executive. "The G class was the perfect product to debut this year, but the likelihood we will be in Detroit next January is very slim. That doesn't mean however we are ruling out a return in 2020.”
Even it were to make a return in two years’ time, Detroit show planners will not be happy to see the section of Cobo Hall normally reserved for Mercedes empty next year. In fact, the specific location of that space is prime real estate due to its large size and proximity to a high-traffic entrance. Mercedes also hosts off-site pre-show media events that bring business to downtown Detroit venues. For the off-site G-Class event, Mercedes rented an old theatre turned into a parking garage complete with shooting flames and a hill climb. Even Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche was present alongside Schwarzenegger.
Unfortunately, auto shows in general, no matter where they are in the world, are becoming more difficult expenses for automakers to justify. They’re experimenting with alternative and cheaper ways to reach current and potential customers via social media and other technologies. Auto shows were huge in the 20th century and, sadly, this trend may be slowly dying off.