DETROIT -- Automakers and journalists want the dealer group that runs the Detroit auto show to start the January 2004 show a week later.
At issue is the inconvenience that overseas journalists and executives would face arriving in Detroit for the first day of press conferences, scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 4. That would require many to begin their trips at the beginning of the long Jan. 1-4 holiday weekend.
Last month, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. sent a letter to the Detroit Automobile Dealers Association asking that press days start on Sunday, Jan. 11. That would push back the start of the public days to Jan. 17.
General Motors, the Chrysler group and other automakers have since endorsed the idea. In addition, the Detroit-based Automotive Press Association has sent a letter to the dealer association asking that the press days be rescheduled.
"It is just a suggestion," said Irving Miller, Toyota's group vice president of corporate communications and author of the letter. "There is no uprising here or anything of the sort. If the dates are the dates, then we will be there in full force, and we will do everything we possibly can to have our top executives from Japan join us."
In the Toyota letter, Miller said commitments in Japan "will likely mean that Mr. (Fujio) Cho will not be able to attend" the January 2004 show. Cho is Toyota Motor Corp. president.
"I think it enhances the stature of the international show when executives from international nameplates can be there," Miller added.
Media days for this year's North American International Auto show began Sunday, Jan. 5. The show's 10-day public run began Jan. 11.
Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit dealer group, said his association will meet this week to discuss changing the show dates.
But Alberts said the wild card is whether any events are taking place at Detroit's Cobo Center on the dates suggested. "We have talked to them" (Cobo officials), but "we don't have a definite answer. It seems to me -- given the $500 million impact on Detroit -- that the city would do everything it can to help accommodate."
Another issue is the impact a date change would have on other shows.
"You don't want to conflict with (other) dates," said Alberts. "Then they (the media) have to decide which show they will go to. So there are a lot of variables involved."