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Detroit’s Auto Show, Now Held in January, Might Move to October in 2020

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Organizers might move Detroit’s North American International Auto Show from January to October

A move from January to October might be in the works for the Detroit auto show.

Held in the home of America’s Big Three automakers, Detroit’s North American International Auto Show used to be the country’s foremost motor exhibition. In recent years, though, Porsche, Mazda, Jaguar, and several other automakers have opted not to attend. Mercedes-Benz won’t be there next year.

The decision, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, hasn’t been finalized yet. But organizers think a shift from Michigan’s frigid winter to its gentler autumn could draw automakers — and attention — back to the Detroit show.

Warmer weather would be sure to increase attendance. Conditions would be friendlier for outdoor demonstrations, test-drive events, and other interactive exhibitions. Organizers are also hoping to draw more automakers back to introducing major products at the show’s media days instead of organizing offsite events.

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Detroit Auto Show Prep

A move to October could reduce display construction costs for Detroit auto show participants
Photo: North American International Auto Show

Costs could go down as well: Organizers are looking to simplify the show’s displays, and automakers wouldn’t need to have them built over the holiday season.

The date change could also free the show from competing with the Consumer Electronics Show. With the rise of electric vehicle technology and the development of driverless cars, automakers and tech giants have shifted more of their attention to the high-tech Las Vegas event, which is also held in January. For example, General Motors launched the Chevrolet Bolt production model at CES in 2016. If the Detroit show moved to October, automakers wouldn’t be forced to choose between it and CES when deciding where to make product announcements and send their CEOs.

A shift to October would, however, place Detroit closer to some other major auto shows — most notably, Paris a month before and Los Angeles a month later.

If a final decision is made to change Detroit’s date, the show would go ahead as planned in January 2019, then switch to October in 2020.

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Sources: Wall Street Journal, Automotive News