Detroit auto show moves to fall 2021

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Detroit — The North American International Auto Show moved its indoor and outdoor show to the fall, officials said Monday, giving it more exposure from other shows planned for spring and summer. 

The Detroit auto show’s summer debut was planned for June of this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the show to next summer. It has now been moved to Sept. 28-Oct. 9, 2021. The show will still feature the outdoor events that were originally planned for the summer event, like the Motor Bella, a street festival celebrating Italian and British car culture.

The move comes after the Los Angeles Auto Show said earlier this month it would host its event in May, between the New York International Auto Show in April, and the planned show in Detroit in June, making it logistically challenging for automakers and vendors to traverse the country and set up shows in three different cities within such a limited timeframe. For that reason, analysts, auto companies and city stakeholders all say the push to fall makes sense, especially since new product for the following year is starting to be revealed.

“It really created quite a tight schedule for the manufacturers,” said Doug North,  chairman of the 2021 NAIAS, who owns Westland-based dealership North Brothers Ford.

There are no other shows in North America in the fall, and the new date “also coincided with when many of the new model releases are in the fall, for the next year’s product,” he added. “So it really seemed to be the real sweet spot.”

The show will remain a fall show going forward after the inaugural event in 2021, with show dates secured with the TCF Center for the next three years. Organizers secured dates toward the end of the month partially because of the International Motor Show in Munich, which is scheduled for the first full week in September.

Moving the show made sense to Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at AutoTrader: “The way the calendar was looking … there’s a lot of jamming of auto shows, basically, one in every month for several months, so in that way it’s good.”

In 1961, the first year the show took place at the former Cobo Center, the event took place in October, North noted: So, “We’re kind of coming full circle.”

The event for years took place in the bitter cold of January, but organizers were encouraged to consider offering a summer show instead as a way to inject more excitement into a show that saw a decline in the number of global automakers participating in the event. That first summer show was slated for June 2020, but moved the show to summer 2021 after the TCF Center was made into a temporary field hospital for COVID-19 patients. 

The cancellation of the summer show meant a great loss in revenue for the city’s hotels and restaurants, but Larry Alexander, CEO of Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, see the potential in what a fall show means for the area: “The last thing anyone wants to see is our auto show, which has been with us for so long, diminishing its importance. We never want to see that happen because, this is the home of the automotive industry. The more we can help the industry be successful, the more successful we are as a destination.”

Moving the show to September opens up the month of 

The 2021 show dates are:

  • Motor Bella: Sept. 24-26
  •     The Gallery: Sept. 26
  •     Press Preview: Sept. 28-29
  •     AutoMobili-D: Sept. 28-30  
  •     Industry Preview: Sept. 29-30
  •     Charity Preview: Oct. 1
  •     Public Show: Oct. 2-9

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