DETROIT — Liberated from its longtime slot in the deep freeze of January, the Detroit auto show had big plans for the 2020 event that were years in the making.
It was supposed to be a summertime celebration for a transforming auto industry and a resurgent downtown. With just months to go before the new June date, plans were largely set:
Barges would be docked along the Detroit River showcasing new vehicles. Downtown parks dotted with food trucks and automaker-sponsored displays. Ride-and-drives zipping along the riverfront.
Working with 14 acres of outdoor space, officials received permits to block traffic in order to park British and Italian classics as part of a Concours-like expo. A German Haus across the street from the convention hall was planned with a biergarten and curbside space to show off Audis and Volkswagens.
There was even talk of helicopter companies staging demonstrations of vertical takeoffs and landings.
Then the coronavirus hit.