The relevance of auto shows as a showcase for brands and new model debuts is being questioned as automakers are increasingly holding their own events or choosing to attend smaller, but more diverse, interactive showcases such as the UK's Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The shift is underlined by the list of brands that will skip next month's Frankfurt auto show (see table below). The absentees will include Peugeot, Fiat and seven other marques that account for 20 percent of all sales in Europe.
Automakers are making the change because it's becoming increasingly difficult for their brands to justify the huge amount of money spent to take part in a major auto show when they measure that investment against the perceived effect on sales, said Ian Fletcher, principal analyst for IHS Markit. "I would question what the translation rate is between attendance on public days to transactions -- I bet most customers now are happier to do research online," he said.
The static, hands-off nature of auto shows held in convention centers is being challenged by more vibrant outdoor events that provide more entertainment for potential customers. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed, brands set up their stands in a parkland setting and attempt to lure show-goers who are primarily there to see historically significant racecars driven at high speeds by famous drivers.