Detroit Auto Show Moves to June in 2020

By: Kyle Magin July 25, 2018
An artist's rendering of Detroit's Hart Plaza shows what the city's North American International Auto Show could become now that it's moving to June in 2020 as opposed to its traditional January dates. The move to a warm-weather month opens up more of the
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One of the world’s premier auto shows is coming in from the cold.

Beginning in 2020, the city of Detroit will host the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in June, organizers announced Monday. Long a showcase event for motor heads and Motor City society alike, NAIAS and its shift in timeline is a significant departure from the show’s traditional mid-January time slot.

The NAIAS attracts automakers and auto enthusiasts from the U.S. and around the globe for new vehicle model unveilings, but the event has increasingly struggled to compete. Other shows and even social media events are drawing big crowds, and some manufacturers are choosing to debut new models to large digital audiences instead of in person.

In addition, exorbitant exhibition costs in recent years have become too much for some carmakers. In many cases, exhibitors have had to pay overtime during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons to complete booths in time for the January show.

The change in dates has also been seen by industry watchers as a way to boost enthusiasm in the annual event.

“Our show is undergoing its most significant transformation in the last three decades,” said NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts. “Detroit will continue to be a global stage for some of the world’s most significant and iconic vehicle reveals and host an unparalleled international audience of media and key industry influencers.”

June in Detroit is significantly more appealing than January for all of those involved. Frigid Detroit winters render test-drives and outdoor venues a non-starter. With a move to summer, however, the show can expand beyond its traditional home at the Cobo Center, as detailed in a video NAIAS officials released with their announcement.

Organized by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), the NAIAS creates an annual economic impact of $450 million, dwarfing the value of events like the Super Bowl.

The show has been international for about three decades—Toyota and Nissan joined Detroit’s “Big Three” domestic manufacturers in 1989. Since then, numerous other manufacturers from the likes of Europe and Asia have also joined.

The 2019 NAIAS is scheduled to begin January 14. In 2020, the two-week event will kick off on June 8.

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