Detroit auto show expected to move to June, reports say

UPDATED: 7/9/18 10:17 pm ET - adds details

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which organizes the North American International Auto Show in downtown Detroit, is preparing to reimagine and shift the annual show to June, The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News reported Monday.

After months of deliberations, show organizers are finalizing a plan to move the annual show from its longtime January date to June in 2020, with an announcement expected July 24, the News said, citing industry sources close to the situation.

The June date would be "the cornerstone of an outdoor automotive celebration around Cobo Center and other downtown landmarks," the News said.

Downtown Detroit has seen a revival in recent years, with new stores, hotels, galleries, and restaurants and sports venues.

The Free Press reported show organizers are eager to offer outdoor events that include vehicle test drives and demonstrations of technologies on the rooftop parking lot of Cobo Center, where the show has been staged for years, as well as nearby streets.

A major goal of the new date "is to provide a vibrant new stage to demonstrate new vehicles and technologies like self-driving cars," the Free Press said.

A promotional video from organizers shows vehicles being driven around a track on the roof of Cobo Center and an off-road course for SUVs in front of the city"s convention center.

The News said Ford Motor Co., one of Detroit"s three automakers, is pressing show organizers to adapt features for a reconstituted Detroit auto show based on the success of the Goodwood Festival of Speed scheduled to take place in the United Kingdom this weekend.

The Festival of Speed, marking its 25th anniversary this year, bills itself as one of the world"s greatest celebrations of "motorsport and car culture" and a gathering of "extraordinary vehicles from the dawn of motoring to the present day and beyond."

The News said the Goodwood event continues to attract more vehicles and industry executives each year amid a celebration that features road rallies, a hill climb, supercar runs and a moving auto show that gives journalists and consumers a chance to experience new and redesigned vehicles.

Detroit auto show organizers have been forced to rethink the event, held annually in early January, with the departure of Mercedes, BMW and Audi starting next year, following other brand defections in recent years.

Major auto shows elsewhere are also grappling with fewer exhibitors as automakers reconsider marketing outlays, public enthusiasm, media exposure and other ways to reach consumers. 

While other major North American auto shows, notably Chicago, draw more consumers during public days, the Detroit show has become a major draw for journalists around the globe, though it"s unclear how the departure of Germany"s major luxury brands will affect requests for media credentials.

Ford has been a Goodwood sponsor for more than two decades and a supporter of moving the Detroit auto show to June, the News said. The company has quietly encouraged DADA officials to consider Goodwood a model that Detroit could emulate.

Rod Alberts, executive director of the DADA, declined to comment, The News said.

Detroit show losses

12 brands that had been longtime Detroit participants have departed since 2015

Click on a gray box to learn what happened to the brand.

■ Remaining brands

Brands that will be in Detroit in 2019

■ Departing brands

Brands that have announced their departures since 2015

Mazda announces Detroit departure in July 2016

Mazda departs in 2017, citing need to concentrate on smaller events and save marketing dollars. The company said it will focus on the Los Angeles and New York auto shows instead.

STORY: Detroit auto show preview: Maserati to Volvo
Volvo did not introduce vehicles at the 2018 Detroit auto show

Not only did Volvo not accept an award at the 2018 Detroit auto show, it also announced plans to skip the 2019 Geneva auto show. The company has recently said its participation at other auto exhibitions would no longer be a given as it focuses on "purpose-specific communications."

STORY: Detroit auto show preview: Maserati to Volvo
Mercedes-Benz AMG announces plans to skip 2019 Detroit auto show in February 2018

The company cited the "rising complexity" of the auto industry and a range of products and services it is developing as reasons to reassess its participation in the show.

STORY: Mercedes confirms plans to skip 2019 Detroit auto show
Tesla announces in December 2015 its plans not to attend 2016 Detroit auto show

Tesla has not returned to the auto show since announcing very shortly before the 2016 show that the company would not attend.

STORY: Tesla pulls out of Detroit"s 2016 North American International Auto Show at the last minute
Jaguar Land Rover announced decision to skip 2016 Detroit auto show in November 2015

The company cited an increase in attention toward other international shows as its reason for backing out of the Detroit show.

STORY: JLR won"t attend Detroit auto show
Porsche announces 2017 Detroit auto show departure in July 2016

Volkswagen"s sports car unit announced its plans to instead focus on trade shows in New York and Los Angeles, noting the cost and value of participating in Detroit were no longer beneficial.

STORY: Porsche to skip 2017 Detroit auto show
Toyota scraps the Scion brand

Toyota pulls the plug on Scion in February 2016. The funky upstart brand was launched in 2002 to appeal to the finicky younger buyers Toyota was struggling to connect with on its own. Toyota says the parent brand was no longer struggling to connect with those buyers.

STORY: Toyota to scrap Scion brand, keep the cars
Jaguar Land Rover announced decision to skip 2016 Detroit auto show in November 2015

The company cited an increase in attention toward other international shows as its reason for backing out of the Detroit show.

STORY: JLR won"t attend Detroit auto show
Audi announced in May its plans to sit out the 2019 Detroit auto show

Joining BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the German premium brand said it will sit out the 2019 show in Detroit, but will evaluate future shows on a "case by case basis."

STORY: Audi to skip 2019 Detroit auto show, joining BMW, Benz
BMW joined German rival Mercedes-Benz and pulls out of Detroit auto show

BMW announced plans to not attend the 2019 NAIAS, stemming from an ongoing examination of their presence at trade shows and other engagements as well as exploring alternative platforms.

STORY: BMW pulls out of Detroit auto show
In December 2015, Mini announces plans to skip 2016 Detroit auto show

The BMW-owned brand would not exhibit at the Detroit show due to new product and brand strategy that increase Mini"s access to other target groups, the company said.

STORY: Tesla, Mini to skip Detroit auto show