With the North American International Auto Show in Detroit moving to June in 2020, a new winter show is afoot. The Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich., outside Detroit, is organizing its own regional auto show to fill the void in January.
Organizers are calling the Southeast Michigan Auto Show in early January a consumer-focused event as opposed to the international, media-driven flair of the North American International Auto Show held annually at Detroit's Cobo Center, Blair Bowman, president of the convention center, told Crain's Detroit Business, an affiliate of Automotive News.
The Southeast Michigan Auto Show is to take place at the special event and convention center Friday, Jan. 3, through Sunday, Jan. 5. It would include a VIP cocktail kickoff event on the night of Jan. 3 as well as seminars, an outdoor and indoor ride-and-drive experience, kid-friendly activities and merchandise vendors, according to documents the Suburban Collection Showplace distributed to local dealers and viewed by Crain's Detroit Business.
"The event has been put together with the idea of supporting the dealer community in the area, which is extremely important to our economy," Bowman said. "And is coalescing in a time frame where there is otherwise a gap. This is something that is totally distinct from the new, very cool, reimagined and obviously reinvigorated event downtown in June."
Bowman hopes the Southeast Michigan Auto Show can support in a more formal way the North American International Auto Show.
"We believe the two events will be mutually enhancing, and we want to work with and offer anything our event can do to educate attendees on what will be happening downtown" at the Detroit auto show next June, Bowman said. "We are hopeful and expecting that to happen."
The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, however, doesn't yet appear to be onboard.
"The NAIAS and DADA are not involved in the upcoming Southeast Michigan Auto Show, a three-day local dealer event," said Amanda Niswonger, a spokeswoman for the Detroit auto show. "We are focused on making the 2020 NAIAS the biggest and best event of its kind, creating more opportunities to engage industry, media and consumers from around the globe and showcasing the industry's latest products and technology in the beautiful city of Detroit."
Bowman confirmed several automakers and dealerships have signed on to participate in the January event, but declined to provide more detail.
The Suburban Collection, the largest dealership group in Southeast Michigan, with $2.6 billion in 2018 revenue, signed a multimillion-dollar deal for naming rights on the 320,000-square-foot convention center in 2010. It's unclear whether the group will participate in the January auto show. Suburban Collection officials were not immediately available for comment.
Two other local dealer groups contacted by Crain's declined to comment when asked whether they planned to particpate in the event.
A formal launch of the event is expect in the near future, Bowman said.
The Novi show is expected to focus exclusively on the latest cars and light trucks, sidestepping the future landscape of mobility increasingly embraced by the Detroit auto show. Tickets for the show are expected to cost $10 for ages 13 and up, $5 for children ages 6 to 12, and presumably free for children under 6, according to the documents.
The Detroit Auto Dealers Association decided to move the Detroit show to June 2020 last July amid pressure to reinvigorate the event after several European automakers pulled out. The decision was propelled by a need for automakers and suppliers to showcase new technologies, such as autonomous cars, crash-avoidance systems and ride-sharing applications, that are better experienced outside Cobo during warm weather as opposed to Detroit's often oppressive winter.
The move to June is also designed to consolidate automakers' product introductions back in the show. In recent years, many companies have chosen off-site locations to unveil new products, seeking to maximize coverage without competing with other companies' products.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi skipped the final winter Detroit auto show in January as automakers reevaluate marketing strategies. The show also ran back to back with the CES tech expo in Las Vegas, which forced many auto companies to choose between the two.
Detroit auto show organizers this week unveiled some of their plans for the June 2020 show, which include expanding the show to an additional 1 million square feet in downtown Detroit's Hart Plaza, panel discussions at the adjacent Crowne Plaza Hotel and a shortened press preview.