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Detroit Local NewsThe Detroit auto show will return to its traditional mid-January dates

The Detroit auto show will return to its traditional mid-January dates

Detroit, Michigan – The Detroit car show is set to go back to its usual mid-January timing, following a period of changes due to COVID-19 and car companies depending less on such shows. This decision has been in the works for a while.

Rod Alberts, who heads the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, shared with the Free Press on Thursday that the 2025 Detroit car show will start on Friday, January 10, with a Charity Preview, and wrap up on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 20. The DADA is responsible for organizing the Detroit Auto show.

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“This update reflects our efforts to continue to reimagine the Detroit Auto Show while keeping an eye on what matters most — getting people excited about cars,” Alberts said.

“The pandemic was a pivotal moment for auto shows and other large events,” said Ayalla Ruvio, associate professor of marketing at Michigan State University. “The pandemic changed consumer behavior, and it’s not changing back.”

The Detroit auto show kicked off in 1899 and grew into a major global event known as the North American International Show starting in 1989.

The Detroit auto will again focus on those planning to buy a new vehicle

The upcoming car show will mainly cater to those planning to buy a new vehicle soon, returning to the original purpose of auto shows. While the Detroit show and other major global events in cities like Tokyo, Geneva, Frankfurt, Shanghai, and Beijing have previously attracted big names from the automotive industry, entertainment, and politics for car launches, the focus is shifting.

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The Detroit event will still present some key happenings, such as the North American Car, Truck, and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards. However, the emphasis will be on showcasing cars that are currently on the market and appealing to potential buyers. The organizers are also planning to provide indoor test rides and demonstrations of various vehicles, including off-road and electric vehicles, along with showcasing some exciting new features.

Why Detroit Auto Dealers Association wants to host the Detroit auto show in January again

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) explained their decision to shift the auto show back to January for several reasons:

  1. Community feedback indicates a strong preference for the auto show in January in Detroit and the surrounding region.
  2. A winter show offers a break from the indoor winter routine, giving people an activity in January. Many social media comments expressed a wish for the show to be held in January.
  3. The inclusion of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday allows an extra day for the event, making it more convenient for families and individuals to attend when they have a day off from work and school.
  4. More people tend to visit the show in January, which helps ensure its future success.
  5. Many car brands have national dealer meetings in September, creating a scheduling conflict with a September auto show.
  6. Auto companies have indicated that their marketing budgets for 2024 favor a January 2025 show.
  7. The timing allows the North American Car, Truck, and Utility of the Year (NACTOY) awards to gain more media attention as the opening event of the year’s first auto show.
  8. A January show provides a much-needed boost to local hotels and restaurants during what is typically their slowest month.
  9. The January timing is more favorable for educational programs, as opposed to September, which is the start of the school year.
  10. It’s more cost-effective to hold the show in January.
  11. Moving the show to January opens up the convention center for other events in September, benefiting the city.

A new kind of auto show

Car manufacturers urged the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) to change the traditional midwinter timing of the auto show. They were keen on having outdoor test drives and showcasing new features in the more enjoyable weather of summer or fall along Detroit’s riverfront.

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However, these outdoor events didn’t happen as planned, and the show saw a decline in attendance. Previously, the show would attract between 700,000 to 800,000 visitors in its usual post-holiday period, a time when car makers from all over the world would reveal new vehicles with grand displays. But the numbers dropped significantly for the shows held in September 2022 and 2023 after the pandemic. Although DADA didn’t release official figures for these shows, it was evident that attendance was much lower than in previous years.