Don't expect any big changes next year just because the United States has four auto shows officially designated "international."
But there are a lot of smiling faces in Chicago, and it's not just because the White Sox are baseball's World Series champs.
The Organisation Internationale Des Constructeurs D'Automobiles, or OICA, agreed that auto shows in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York could take turns sharing the international designation alongside the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
OICA is a lot like the United Nations.
It's made up of 42 national trade associations, and its meetings can resemble the U.N. General Assembly, complete with headsets, simultaneous translation and political bickering.
Usually, the group only allows one international show per member country.
But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which is the U.S. member of OICA, went to bat for show organizers in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to get the designations.
America is so big it needs and deserves two international shows a year.
Here's how it works: In 2006, Detroit and Los Angeles will have the international shows. In 2007, Detroit and Chicago have them, and in 2008, Detroit and New York. Then the cycle starts over in 2009 with Detroit and Los Angeles.
This would be a big deal if automakers unveil more products and bring more top execs to those shows because of the OICA blessing. More product unveilings plus more executives usually equals more coverage by out-of-town media and better paid attendance by the locals. That can mean more revenue for the show and the host city.
But none of the automakers I've asked plans to do anything different just because of the OICA label.
Next year, Los Angeles will get more action, but it's because the show will be a month earlier, with its press preview days in late November. That puts more distance between the Los Angeles and Detroit shows, which now are both crammed into the first two weeks of January.
It looks like Chicago and New York mostly get bragging rights.
That's important in Chicago. Until Detroit went international in 1989 and started getting more of the big-time products and people, the Windy City had the most important U.S. auto show.
Grumbling and whining
Since then, the show's organizers at the Chicago Automobile Trade Association have grumbled and whined interminably that as the U.S. show with the most floor space -- and a million attendees -- Chicago deserves more respect.
They may be right. Chicago is a wonderful city, even in winter.
Unfortunately, the Chicago show at McCormick Place in early February is shoehorned between the important international shows in Detroit and Geneva, which makes it tough for automakers to unveil a lot of products there.
But for the folks in Chicago, getting the international designation is a good thing. Now maybe they should move the show to June.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at