The image of the North American International Auto Show took a snowball to the face this year.
A foot of fresh snow shrouded the first day of press previews. That and the extreme cold froze many hearts toward the event, despite a hot mix of new vehicles.
Gripes about Cobo Center and construction on the show floor are not new. For overseas visitors, heading to Detroit on New Year's weekend isn't popular. Neither is the long, four-day schedule of media previews.
But the weather brought a new set of problems.
The City of Detroit took a pasting from international journalists and executives. A lack of cabs, a shortage of parking and unplowed roads and sidewalks all drew criticism.
The blizzard disrupted hundreds of flights and created chaos at Detroit's Metropolitan Airport.
Automakers say they will talk to show organizers. Tom Gale, executive vice president of DaimlerChrysler Corp., said: 'I hope we can get this show moved. Why we put this show on at this time of year, I don't know.'
Ford spokesman Ken Zino said: 'We are definitely concerned. This year did throw up some pretty extreme circumstances, so we have to figure out how to make it work better.'
Harold Kuhn, co-chairman of the show, said organizers were trying to hold next year's event later in January. Travel around the next New Year's holiday will be even more difficult because of millennium celebrations, not to mention fears over airline computers crashing as the calendar turns to 2000.
But a move to a different month is out of the question, Kuhn said.
'The show has been held in January since 1907,' Kuhn said. 'It also fits into the international auto show calendar.'
Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, noted that the Jan. 2 blizzard cost the show a day and a half of preparation. The association has been instrumental in transforming the show into a major international event during the past decade.