The end of a glorious era for the Detroit International Auto Show?
The Detroit Motor Show gets outdone by more technological trade shows .
The event, which is making a comeback after a two-year hiatus as a result of the pandemic, will no longer have all the allure and splendor that made it , for years one of the major meetings of the global automotive industry.
The digital publisher of Automotive News Canada, Greg Layson, nostalgically evokes past editions of the Detroit Motor Show.
You will remember hundreds and hundreds of vehicles on a floor, in a giant conference center, full of flyers, folders, promotional items and all kinds things, he explains.
“And you would sit down and test drive all these cars in their seats and you could feel, and look, and to touch. »
— Greg Layson, Digital Editor of Automotive News Canada.
He thinks this year's edition will be completely different from anything we've seen before.
Greg Layson remembers years in which there were as many as 10 vehicle unveilings.
For Greg Layson, if the Detroit event loses its luster, it is in particular because it is vampirized by events which usually focus on technology, given what vehicles are becoming.
Vehicles today are essentially rolling computers, and many of them are geared towards this which is revealed and goes on sale at the Consumer Electronics Show, he says.
“People are really interested in knowing, can my phone connect [to my car], can my car can I turn on the house lights, can I get where I'm going without having to drive.
—Greg Layson, Automotive News Canada Digital Editor
Yan Cimon is a professor of strategy at the Faculty of Business Administration at Université Laval. He, too, has observed a gradual shift in car manufacturers over the past few years.
The latter must follow the trends imposed by consumers, who themselves are much more interested in trade shows technological, and this, at a time when, as he explains, we are abandoning heat engines, internal combustion engines, to go towards electric motors.
Yan Cimon thinks car shows are going to have to reinvent themselves if they want to continue to stay relevant.
Players who are already established in electric and players who are all-electric like Tesla, chose very early in their existence to position themselves as technology companies and not companies in the automotive field, explains- t-il
“And so they, these companies, stuck to more tech industries and made their unveilings of products, lots of promotions, appearances in technology forums. »
— Yan Cimon, Professor of Strategy at the Faculty of Administrative Sciences at Laval University
Manufacturers also want to get closer and closer to the markets in which they make their biggest sales, according to Alain McKenna, who is a journalist specializing in automobiles and technologies.
Aux United States specifically, there has been a shift in the importance of trade shows from Detroit which was the epicenter of the industry to Los Angeles in California and New York on the east coast […] then these are the two biggest markets in the United States, he explains.
“The same way the Germans are increasingly concentrated in Frankfurt in terms of novelties and presentations. »
— Alain McKenna, journalist specializing in automobiles and technologies
For Alain McKenna, the observed trend, that of salons losing power, could hardly be reversed.
Mr. McKenna also observes that a number of salons have become regionalised, have become more modest. Thus, the Detroit show mainly offers products, a few vehicles to come, from American manufacturers.
Detroit therefore now welcomes many groups of regional dealers who go there to carry out sales.
Gone are the days when the Detroit Auto Show offered lavish and expensive new vehicle unveilings, according to Greg Layson.
We used to turn up in droves to see the unveiling of a new vehicle and be amazed. But all this week, the last two weeks, automakers have been unveiling these vehicles [outside Detroit], he explains.
“There were years when there were two, three or four, ten vehicles that we looked forward to seeing for the very first time. And that excitement and that magic kind of disappeared.
—Greg Layson, Digital Editor of Automotive News Canada
Yan Cimon isn't expecting a house-breaking show either, even if a few unveilings, much less than usual, will be done.
We're talking about the new Mustang, which is highly, highly anticipated, and which will likely be the last Mustang with an internal combustion engine. […] We are talking in particular about Dodge and its new electric muscle car which should be prominently displayed at this show, he specifies.
“It is true that the other anticipated unveilings are rather vanilla unveilings, that is to say interesting unveilings, but which will not be intended to rock the boat. »
— Yan Cimon, professor of strategy at the Faculty of Administrative Sciences at Laval University
Although he has lost some of his luster, the Detroit International Auto Show remains an event of great importance, according to Greg Layson who thinks the event will continue to attract people.
The last motor show in 2019 saw around 700,000 visitors and we are told that organizers are still expecting 500,000 visitors, which in a post-pandemic world and what not; is not even really finished, let's face it, is a pretty good number, he says.
Organizers would count especially on the presence of Joe Biden to create enthusiasm around the show this year.
Yan Cimon points out that the organizers of the show are doing everything possible to get people talking about this meeting, by inviting leading figures, in order to continue to make it a significant event.
We want to create a significant buzz around the show, which is likely to happen in part because President Joe Biden has confirmed his participation in the show, he explains.
Mr. Cimon also explains that the show intends to offer more possibilities to the public this year by offering a show that will be both outdoor and indoor and multisite.
The fact remains that the show must reinvent itself, as all shows exclusively focused on the car must do if they want to continue to exist, according to Yan Cimon.
The shows of the future, especially shows like Detroit, will be shows that will mark the occasion, that will be global, that will be multiplatform and above all that will take into account what the automobile means to people, he indicates.