Nissan and Infiniti will return to more U.S. auto shows this year after paring back for cost reasons. The new plans come in response to urgings from both brands' dealers.
"Infiniti dealers absolutely want us to be back in the shows," says Ben Poore, vice president of the Infiniti Business Unit at Nissan North America Inc. "We'll be in 12 to 15 shows this year."
Nissan dealers have been making the same appeal, including at a meeting late last year with Carlos Tavares, Nissan's chairman for the Americas region.
"We did show our concerns about our lack of participation in the auto shows. We feel it's very important," says Chris Assmar, executive manager of Esserman Nissan in Miami and a member of Nissan's new Partnership Committee, composed of retailers and senior factory officials.
"From all indications, attendance at auto shows across the United States for the last year was up," Assmar says. "That's the information that we have and that we presented to Nissan."
The brands pulled out of the 2009 auto shows in Detroit, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. They also skipped the 2010 Detroit show.
At the time, Nissan said it was seeking more cost-effective approaches to displaying its cars. Nissan was on a global cost-cutting campaign after dipping into red ink for the first time in a decade.
The company provided booth materials to dealer groups that wanted to represent Infiniti at local shows where the carmaker chose not to participate. Dealers paid their own expenses and provided cars and personnel at several shows, including the Chicago show.
Poore says Infiniti will continue doing that in many markets this year -- in addition to the 12 to 15 shows the brand is fully paying for. Poore estimates Infiniti will be in 30 U.S. shows this year.
The automaker has developed a new display booth that is less expensive to transport, set up, take down and maintain.
"It's not the usual behemoth exhibit that we've used in the past," Poore says. The design will feature fewer cars and require fewer presenters.