North American International Auto Show Will Move to June Timeframe in 2020

July 23, 2018

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) will move out of the crowded car show fall/winter timeframe and into summer starting in 2020 in Detroit.

In addition, the show will transform into one that was traditionally held just inside the Cobo Center, to taking on more of a ‘festival’ environment and holding events in venues around the city, including outdoors.

“Our show is undergoing its most significant transformation in the last three decades,” said Rod Alberts, Executive Director, NAIAS.

He added, “Detroit will continue to be a global stage for some of the world’s most significant and iconic vehicle reveals and host an unparalleled international audience of media and key industry influencers.”

NAIAS touches all facets of the industry and attracts the largest concentration of the world’s top industry leaders – from automakers and suppliers, to tech startups and venture capitalists, to universities and policymakers, according to show organizers.

“The North American International Auto Show is an amazing exhibition that showcases the most innovative and creative automotive companies around the world,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

He added. “Moving the show to the summer opens up new opportunities for companies as well as creating new experiences for attendees.”

The show is run by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association and its Executive Board.

As part of the DADA and Board’s due diligence in exploring new opportunities for the show, hundreds of meetings and
conversations with key stakeholders – automakers, suppliers and sponsors, as well as industry and government leaders – were had around the world.

“Our ultimate goal is to provide an experience and opportunity for participating companies and attendees, that only Detroit can offer,” said Doug North, DADA President.

He added, “June will allow us to better showcase the automotive leadership, development and heritage our great city and region holds.”

Auto show dynamics are changing globally as the auto industry undergoes its biggest shift in more than a century. With this, automakers are seeking out increasingly creative ways to debut vehicles and engage with consumers.

Plans have been underway for more than a year as NAIAS stands ready to embrace this evolution with its move to June and provide a fresh international platform for hundreds of brands to highlight their innovations.

“As we look to break out of the traditional auto show model, there is not a need to follow the normal show season,” North said. “The new direction and focus of the show will disrupt the normal cadence of traditional shows and create a new event unparalleled in the industry.”

The reimagined show will undergo an evolution that will take the show from inside Cobo Center to a myriad of brand activation and engagement opportunities.  

While the successful foundation of the show inside Cobo Center will continue with vehicles and innovative mobility technologies being showcased, transformation plans call for growth in both branding and event opportunities at multiple venues throughout Detroit, and perhaps, beyond.

“Detroit now has the opportunity to showcase our riverfront and our revitalized downtown during our beautiful summer months and creatively use the exterior of Cobo to launch new products that will transform Detroit into an exciting auto-centric environment,” said Larry Alexander, president and CEO of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Hosting the show in June sets the stage for exhibitors to conduct dynamic outdoor experiential brand activations, immersing and engaging the media and consumers in memorable product experiences.

A sampling of outdoor experiential activities might include:

  • Dynamic Vehicle Debuts
  • Ride and Drives
  • Autonomous/Automated Driving
  • Off-Road Challenges

“The potential to create a month long automotive festival in Detroit starting with the Detroit Grand Prix, going through our show and concluding with the nationally-celebrated fireworks on the river, will provide an unmatched festival-like experience for all attendees,” Alberts added.

The move to June also will translate into substantial cost savings for exhibitors.

By eliminating November, December and January holidays from the move-in equation, exhibitors will see reduced overtime labor costs for builds.

Additionally, the show will have a shorter move-in schedule of three weeks, significantly reduced from the current 8 weeks on average it takes for move-in. With a reduced build time, exhibit builds will be simplified and less custom-built for Detroit, providing numerous cost savings as well.

“June provides us with exciting new opportunities that January just didn’t afford,” Alberts said. “We strongly believe we can continue to deliver a significant economic impact for our great city and offer an event unlike anything anyone has ever experienced.”

This past January, NAIAS attracted well over three-quarters of a million people to the city and generated an economic impact of $480M (according to David Sowerby, CFA, Managing Director, Portfolio Manager, Ancora) to the regional economy.

Automakers have responded to the date change positively:

  • “Reinventing NAIAS as a summertime festival of design, speed and innovation is incredibly exciting. It will showcase the best of our industry and the best of Detroit, and should become a can’t miss event on the calendar for global automakers and media,” said Mark Truby, Vice President, Communications, Ford Motor Company.
  • “We applaud the DADA for thinking big and really taking advantage of this opportunity to re-imagine the auto show and position Detroit in the best light. We’re excited to be a part of a festival-like series of events that showcase all the great things that are happening in both the auto industry and Detroit,” said Tony Cervone, Senior Vice President, Global Communications, General Motors Company
  • “Toyota is excited to see the North American International Auto Show move to June in 2020,” said Scott Vazin, Group Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, Toyota Motor North America. “With a new summer timeframe, industry leaders and international media will see Detroit in a new light, paving the way for exciting outdoor activities and more opportunities to explore this vibrant city.”

The re-imagined North American International Auto Show will kick off June 8, 2020.

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