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2020 World’s Fair Hoping to Attract a Detroit-Based Automaker as a Sponsor

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Organizers are hard at work trying to secure a domestic automaker's presence for the Pavilion USA 2020 exhibit at the upcoming World's Fair in Dubai

American automakers once had a significant presence at the World’s Fair. Could this soon be true once again?
Photo: Anthony Conti

The automotive industry shares a long and celebrated history with the various world’s fairs held throughout the 20th and 21st century. Perhaps most famously, the Ford Mustang made its debut during the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.

Unfortunately, general interest in world’s fairs has declined in North America, given how the last fair held in the U.S. was back in 1984. Frederick Bush wants to change that with the 2020 World’s Fair in Dubai. In order to do so, he’s seeking the help of a Detroit-based automaker.

Bush has his sights set on General Motors. However, GM is unsure of whether it wants to commit to sponsoring a World’s Fair pavilion.

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The theme of the 2020 World’s Fair is “connecting minds and creating the future.” This major theme is split into three sub-themes: innovation, sustainability, and mobility.

Bush, who is chairman of the Pavilion USA 2020 at the upcoming World’s Fair, says that the U.S. pavilion will focus on mobility. That’s why an American automaker would be the perfect company to invest in the pavilion.

Such an investment is not cheap. Bush is admittedly seeking an investment of $5 million for Pavilion USA 2020, which is projected to cost around $60 million in total.

Due to its Dubai-based venue, the upcoming world’s fair may have trouble attracting visitors from the U.S. and China, the two largest automotive markets. Still, it does present a unique opportunity for an automaker with a strong presence in the Middle East region, such as GM.

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Bush states that a world’s fair serves as a venue for automakers to showcase their latest vehicles and technology to some of the most influential and wealthy citizens in the world. The length of a world’s fair, usually around six months, also presents a unique advantage to those with a presence at the event.

“That’s a frustration of my job: Most executives haven’t ever gone to an expo and don’t know how it can benefit their company,” explains Bush. “Companies pay millions for TV advertising with the Olympics and that’s only 17 days. This is a direct experience with millions of people who are upscale influencers.”

Of course, the 60,000-square-foot pavilion will feature more than just vehicles from any automaker who agrees to participate. Designed to resemble New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Pavilion USA 2020 will also feature an exhibit exploring the possibility of a mission to Mars, as well as a Hyperloop simulator.

A simulation of the Hyperloop System will be just one of the many mobility-based exhibits for Pavilion USA 2020
Photo: HyperloopTT

For its part, GM issued the following statement:

“We have been approached about potential involvement in the 2020 World’s Fair. Various options for participation are currently under review.”

The World’s Fair is viewed by many Americans to be an archaic concept from the past. Yet, if GM, or another domestic automaker, does decide to participate in the event, then it could potentially renew interest in the fair across America.

News Source: The Detroit Free Press