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Tuesday, 23 June 2020 00:22

Detroit Auto Show Canceled: Here's What We Could Have Seen and Done

Written by Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press
The Corvette ZR1 greets attendees Jan. 19, 2019, as they enter the doors of the 2019 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.  The Corvette ZR1 greets attendees Jan. 19, 2019, as they enter the doors of the 2019 North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.  Kimberly P. Mitchell 


Beer and brats served in an outdoor German biergarten is not what typically comes to mind when people think about the cars on the carpet at the Detroit Auto Show.

But that taste of Germany in the middle of Detroit was the plan this year. 


It was called the German Haus, to be kitty corner from the TCF Center where Germany's automotive industry and culture would be showcased on the sidelines of the auto show. The beer served there would be provided by Detroit's own brewery, Atwater.


“People were so excited about the concept," said Meredith Upward, vice present of events for the German American Business Council of Michigan, which was hosting German Haus. "The interior space had been sold, the exterior space had been sold. We had auto dealers lining up to display their German cars along Washington and Congress. Everything was looking very bright. Then, we all know the rest of that story.”


Organizers of the 2020 North American International Auto Show in Detroit cancelled the show in late March. The Federal Emergency Management Agency designated the TCF Center to become a field hospital for COVID-19 cases for at least six months. The state was on a stay-home order due to the pandemic.


Last week would have been the public show days. Now the Motor City won't have a car show until June 2021, making it more than two years since the last auto show in January 2019.


Here is a look at what cars the Detroit Three might have revealed and the impact on metro-Detroit by the show's absence.


Expanded offerings for better weather


The show was scheduled to begin with the Motor Bella Italian and British vehicle street fest June 5-7;  press and industry days June 9-11; the Charity Preview June 12, and the public show June 13-20.


For the automakers, the canceled show is a missed opportunity to put new cars in front of potential consumers.


"Ford has two massive big programs this year, the new Bronco and the redesigned F-150," said John McElroy, host at Autoline.tv. "One or the other would have debuted in Detroit.”


Ford will do online reveals of the Bronco on July 13 and the F-150 on June 25.


This year was to be the 2.0 version of the Detroit show. NAIAS organizers envisioned a reboot as they moved it from Michigan's dreary winter to the dog days of summer. The clement weather opened up possibilities for new, outdoor events adjacent to the show.


For example, the popular Charity Preview was to expand to a two-party event: one indoors and one outdoors at Hart Plaza. There would have been two-ticket options offering indoor and outdoor entertainment, experiential displays, some of the city’s best eats and a "reimagined summertime dress code," organizers said. 


Also new was the Motor Bella car show near the Detroit Opera House. More than 100 Italian and British supercars from 12 brands, such as Ferrari and Rolls-Royce, would have been featured. Ferrari was bringing a lineup of cars for its own event in Parker’s Alley behind the Shinola Hotel as part of Motor Bella.


Those sideshows would have drawn a fresh crowd and possibly re-engaged some of the super luxury brands such as Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce and Ferrari to events near the show, said Karl Brauer, former executive publisher of AutoTrader and Kelley Blue Book.


"Essentially, the June Detroit Auto Show was supposed to be a way to build and create a Monterey car week in Detroit," Brauer said, referring to the premium classic car show and auction held in Monterey, CA, each August.

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