Car companies are smart to give closer scrutiny to their auto show spending. Some are skipping the expensive show exhibits -- as Ford is this week in Paris -- and in some cases they're relying on piggyback events nearby.
It's a tactical marketing decision, and it's understandable. But before automakers make a habit of it, they should remember what makes the shows such a spectacle: the willing participation of a community of companies, coming together in the collective interest of the industry and its customers. Automakers that recognize this know that they belong in the arena, not on the sidelines.