The North American International Car Show starts Monday, but Detroit's flagship image is not what it used to be as a luxury car manufacturer will elsewhere debut their latest designs.
"This is the last Detroit Auto Show that takes place in the winter," Julie Blackley, communications manager at the automotive company iSeeCars, told CNBC. "The only European brand with a booth is Volkswagen, so there isn't so much hype around this show as in previous years."
As automakers skip the ship, revealing their latest enhancements to the LA Auto Show running shortly after Thanksgiving or Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which has just concluded, the Detroit show organizers have chosen to move it from January to June from 2020. Doug North – president of the dealer association that runs the show, named NAIAS – said the move should help those car companies who use outdoor spaces and provide more exciting exhibits to the public.
"June will allow us to better show leadership, development and legacy that our big city and region holds," said North in a press release announcing the Change.
The debate is not settled on whether the date changes to a warmer month, it will suffice to attract manufacturers back. According to Jeremy Acevedo, head of industrial analysis in Edmunds, auto shows are generally falling. Car manufacturers are increasingly choosing to host their own events or online revealing rather than struggling to catch each other for the limited attention situations of consumers during auto programs. Just Wednesday, Ford, rolled out its newly developed 2020 Explorer at the Ford Field Stadium in Detroit.
Car dealership, Acevedo said, asks everyone: "Is that the money there?"
Moreover, they are not only competing with other debuts at Detroit. More and more car manufacturers are choosing to demonstrate technology at Las Vegas CES. Because car companies are trying to compete in the world of autonomous cars, affiliated cars and mobility services, CES offers them a chance to engage with the audience who may not be so familiar with their brands.
Audi, Mercedes and BMW chose to show their latest in Las Vegas last week instead of Detroit. CES not only offers a technically focused audience for increasingly advanced cars, but the warm Las Vegas weather in January allows companies to make outdoor demonstrations of driver systems and roadways without having to worry about snow.
To Acevedo, the outdoor exhibits offer a good reason to change the date of the detroit show. As car companies move away from the fanfather who surrounds new sheets and against offering more services and technology, the possibility of demonstrating it becomes more important.
"Car shows have been nice of a" look, but do not touch "business" he said. He says it's a strategy that doesn't get attention and commitment.
"Has something that is interactive, it can show ability … it can be an advantage," Acevedo told CNBC. But in the end, he is not convinced that it will suffice to restore NAIAS to its former glory.
Auto shows as a concept, he says, has a "limited sustainability". Despite NAIAS best efforts, he claims that we are approaching the expiration date.