Sponsor interest for the return of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been "exceptionally high" due to the pent-up demand from the hiatus of one of the city's largest events, according to organizers.
There are expected to be at least 25 new sponsors at the show, scheduled for Sept. 14-25, compared with 2019, when the show last took place, said Tavi Fulkerson, founder of The Fulkerson Group. She has handled sponsor activity for the show since 1992.
The show is on track to have "well over" 100 sponsors and partners, Fulkerson said. Plenty more new companies are expected to sign on in the next five months, too.
"To a certain degree, it's stronger than it was in 2019 for I'd say a couple of fundamental reasons," Fulkerson said. "One is the show hasn't been in Detroit in a while. Everyone in Michigan — consumers, industry, media — embrace the auto show in a way that you wouldn't find in other auto show markets because we're all affiliated with the industry one way or another."
The other reason is the reimagined indoor/outdoor format of the show and its new focus on consumers. That has opened a lot of opportunity for companies that don't usually spend for exposure inside Huntington Place, as the convention center is now called.
"You've got companies like soft drinks, spirits, mobile phone companies, e-bikes, for example, that want to be outside," she said.
Fulkerson said it is too early to offer revenue projections from sponsorships.
New sponsors this year include:
- Plug Zen LLC, a Detroit-based electric vehicle charging company.
- We Predict, a British predictive analytics software company.
- Vitesco Technologies, an Auburn Hills-based automotive supplier spun off from Continental AG last year.
- Mubea Inc., an Auburn Hills-based automotive lightweighting company.
Other major suppliers are also making a return after sitting out of the show for years, Fulkerson said. A large materials trade association marks another new win for organizers. Those organizations are not ready to announce their sponsorships, she said.
Dozens of tech companies, tier-one suppliers and startups will exhibit at the AutoMobili-D exhibit presented by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. It will be moved to the main showroom floor at Huntington Place this year due to demand.
"This strong interest in electrification of vehicles is creating a whole new level of technology interest," Fulkerson said.
NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts, who oversees OEM involvement in the show, said the main floor is sold out. He said the show will focus on electric vehicles and emerging technology, with plans for new reveals and attendance by 25-30 brands from local to exotic automakers.
The hospitality space — floors two, three and four of the convention center where business often is conducted away from the stage — is also close to selling out, Fulkerson said.
The auto show is a chance for suppliers to get in front of automakers with proprietary technology they might not want the public to see. In the age of EVs and autonomous technology, there's lots of competition for OEM attention.
"So to a certain extent, hospitality has been more robust as something we market than display," Fulkerson said.