In the past decade, it has become a tradition in the automotive world to launch the new year with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Sometimes, it is a little too close to New Year's, but that has not lessened the participation by all the auto executives from around the world. It has become a 'must-attend' event, and thousands of automobile executives and journalists cut short their holiday to descend on Detroit for the show.
And after the executives and journalists bid a fond farewell to the Motor City, hundreds of thousands of buyers, tire kickers and enthusiasts will wander about the show over the next 10 days.
But in spite of the million-dollar displays and the excitement of any automobile show, people attend for a very simple reason. They want to see the cars.
Sure, today they may want to see the trucks and the sport-utilities and the minivans, but they come by the thousands to look at the iron. And one reason the Detroit show is so successful is simply that it gives people so much opportunity to see all the cars and trucks that are available.
Plus, and it is a big plus, they get a first look at so many models that are about to be introduced. And they get a first glimpse into the future with all the prototypes that are on display. It is a great opportunity for journalists, auto executives and customers to see a bit of today, tomorrow and the next century.
That is why people love car shows. They want to see the cars. You could take a pretty bad car, dress it up with all the displays and models, and you still would have a hard time drawing a crowd. Put some great-looking car in the middle of the floor, all by itself, and watch it become a magnet for everyone.
If people ever wonder why the product is king, all they have to do is attend the Detroit show, or one in Geneva or Frankfurt or Tokyo. They quickly will realize that the success or failure of a company is based on its vehicles. The successful companies make great cars and trucks that people want to buy. And any company that is in trouble is in trouble because it simply does not have the products or the quality that customers want.
The Detroit show proves once again that people are interested in seeing and buying the excitement that will be on display. Hundreds of cars and trucks will feature all the latest that North America is going to offer in the next few months and years.
It is worth getting on a plane to see. It is what the auto business is all about.