toy car

How Things Shifted For Automakers Since the Last Detroit Auto Show

Underway This Week

The North American International Auto Show, more commonly known as the Detroit auto show, is back. This year, it’s being held in the relatively balmy September weather, after taking place during frigid January temperatures for decades.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a three-year hiatus, and the show’s return comes amid a series of changes. For one thing, the show is smaller, with fewer automakers participating. Fifteen automotive brands have displays this year, down from 24 in 2019. Back in 2012, 35 had displays.

Virtual Showroom

Industry executives say the auto show has become less important as the internet has become more prominent. Generally speaking, the focus is on virtual marketing and events. Many dealers say new car buyers typically complete their entire purchase process online — forgoing even a test drive.

In addition, there are ongoing supply chain disruptions for automobiles, which impacts how companies feel about events like the Detroit auto show. If dealers’ lots are low on inventory, there’s less incentive to create buzz about vehicles or brands. Both the supply chain issues and the tendency toward virtual events were clearly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as a whole.

Auto Show Offerings

As the auto show takes on its new identity, the focus has shifted from onstage reveals and fancy exhibits, to test drives and demonstrations. One such curiosity is eVTOLs, also known as air taxis. They take off and land vertically like helicopters and could be used for future trips to and from the airport, whisking passengers high above traffic.

Among the brands participating are Stellantis NV (STLA), Ford (F), and GM (GM). Honda (HMC) declined to participate, stating this year’s shortage of available cars and trucks was a factor. Certainly for people in the auto sector and car lovers alike, the Detroit auto show will continue to serve a purpose — if for no other reason than to celebrate the industry as a whole, in Motor City.

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James Flippin ABOUT James Flippin James Flippin is the son of a financial advisor who grew up hearing and learning about bond yields, interest rates, the stock market, and the ins and outs of Wall Street. After stints as a licensing and business broker for Marcus and Millichap in New York City, James moved into broadcasting and became a reporter and anchor. He covered crime, politics, finance, and tech at NBC News Radio while working part-time as a producer for SiriusXM. James graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. He's also an accomplished podcaster with over 10-years of experience.

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