German Retreat: BMW Joins Other Automakers in Pulling Out of Detroit Auto Show

The ratio of Detroit iron to imports stands to rise at the next North American International Auto Show, following BMW’s decision to withdraw from the event. On Friday, the German automaker announced it will join a growing list of automakers — including rival Mercedes-Benz — that don’t have time for the Detroit show.

It’s the latest blow for an event struggling to maintain its relevance in an age of off-site reveals, tech-focused consumer shows, and global online audiences.

Bimmer didn’t give a specific reason for the withdrawal.

“In order to communicate our ideas and plans regarding future mobility in the best way – and achieve the greatest possible visibility for our products, technologies and innovations –  we are constantly examining our trade-show and engagements, while also exploring alternative platforms and formats,” the automaker said in a statement.

That leaves a fair bit of Cobo Center floorspace in need of filling come next January. Mercedes-Benz crossed NAIAS 2019 off its calendar earlier this year, with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche claiming the decision came down to the timing of new model launches. While the executive left the door open for Mercedes-Benz’s return, a Daimler AG source told Automotive News the departure could be permanent.

Other high-end automakers, including Volvo, Jaguar, Porsche, and Land Rover, sat out NYIAS 2018.

The Detroit show’s January date was always intended to get consumers interested in new models (and car buying) during a slow sales period for the industry. For decades, this strategy remained intact. However, the event, hosted by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, now faces mounting pressure from the Consumer Electronics Show, held just days before NAIAS in warm, sunny Las Vegas.

Increasingly, CES is the event automakers — desperate to position themselves as cutting-edge adopters of the latest technology — want to be seen at.

The pressure’s so bad, organizers are now considering moving the Detroit show to a warmer month. Not only would holding the show in October provide attendees with hospitable weather, it would also give automakers a new incentive for showing up. For a manufacturer, being able to debut a technology three months before CES means potentially getting ahead of a rival.

[Image: BMW]

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