Registration for Plastics and Rubber in Automotive is still open. The program will be held Jan. 14-15 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Mich. Additional information is available at rubbernews.com/auto.
NAIAS, meanwhile, will mark the 30th anniversary since becoming an international expo when it opens on Jan. 14. And it's undoubtedly one of the more pared-down shows in recent memory—German brands Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW bowed out of the show.
Detroit is becoming victim of a newfound realization from auto makers that auto shows are not a must-attend annual event, said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst of the Americas for Southfield-based IHSMarkit.
"They've learned that while it's important to be at an auto show, if they're not there every year, it's not the end of the world," Brinley said. "Product cadence plays into it. Auto makers are changing the way they unveil vehicles to get them on the road faster, to get the engineering done sooner. Consumers don't care how many cars were launched at an auto show. They may not even know whether the car they are looking at a show was introduced last year or two years ago."
On Jan. 13, one day before the press preview begins, General Motors Co. is unveiling its new three-row Cadillac XT6 crossover at the Garden Theater—three miles north of Cobo Center.
"Utilizing auto shows as the exclusive location to intro cars; well, we now have a long history of deviating from that," said Terry Rhadigan, GM's executive director of product and technology communications. "NAIAS gets to count that as a world debut, and that's fine. Would they rather have (the reveal) inside Cobo? Probably so, but right now we think it's a better return on investment to do somewhere where we create and control the environment. We've got limited resources and always a lot of vehicles to unveil, so if we can do it for less money with the same or better impact or media coverage, that's our practice."
This strategy exploits the digital era, where auto makers can dominate headlines and social media exclusively for a longer time than if an unveil happened on the auto show floor during press days where unveils are packed into 30-minute press conferences one after the other. As soon as GM unveils a product, that news is quickly swept aside for Toyota's, or another auto maker's, unveiling.
BMW, which will be absent for the 2019 Detroit show, unveiled its sixth-generation M5 in a video game last year before showing the physical car to journalists at the show in Frankfurt, Germany, in September.
"We're reviewing the auto show footprint to say, 'Where does it really make sense, which formats make sense, to get journalists, to get customers, to show and display your vehicles?'" Bernhard Kuhnt, CEO of BMW of North America, told Automotive News. "We're definitely going to invest into other formats as well. The auto show is not the right format only."
The use of off-site venues is a major reason the auto show is moving to June in 2020. Show organizers hope to make use of Hart Plaza near Cobo Center and other close-by venues to expand the show's footprint and offer automakers the exclusivity they desire, Alberts said.