Last week, when I rolled into town for the annual Detroit auto show, I was smacked in the face by minus 17-degree weather. I’m from New York, and while I have memories of harsh winters I can’t remember anything as bone chilling as the cold, dry air freezing off my nose and other extremities I had regrettably left exposed. Which begs the question, why in the hell does the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) insist on holding the show in the first week in January?
I know there’s a sense of pride in having the first auto show of the year take place in the city that put the first car together on an assembly line, providing mobility to the masses. The Motor City’s also been hosting the show in the dead of winter since its inception in 1907, so perhaps there’s also a desire to keep tradition. But that’s just a stubborn and antiquated way of thinking. The poor people who are working for the automakers generally have to push through the holidays to get everything ready and finalized for the big debut. That’s no way to start the New Year.
Moving the show to the Spring or Fall would have a massive positive impact for all involved. It would portray the city in a more favorable light than in the dark, frozen winter months and would encourage visitors to roam about the metropolis, spending money on things other than taxi rides from the heated convention center to the heated hotel. Detroit’s got some great open-air restaurants, outdoor concert venues and even some riverside cafes. Why not appreciate them?
There are a few ways moving the show would help not only showgoers like myself but the DADA sell the cars currently sitting on their lots… So let me point these out.
Moving the show to May or June
Besides being significantly warmer, staging the show in May or June would not only present Detroit in a favorable light but also attract more showgoers and sell more cars.
It’s simple really. Everyone knows the best time to buy a car is in August (and if you don’t know, now you know) when the dealerships need to clear off their lots for the impending new arrivals coming off the delivery trucks. Tempting these would be buyers with a gleaming new model on a revolving show stand is a great way to get them into dealerships and get rid of your overstock inventory. By the time August rolled around, you wouldn’t need to sell vehicles at a massive discount or put up rebates on products. Some of these dealers even have to sell these cars at a loss to make the quota. That’s no way to earn a living.
Moving the show to October or November
Everyone tells me that Detroit is an amazing place to see the autumn foliage. That may well be true, but I’ve only ever seen icicles hanging from barren trees. But even if you take the fact that it’s noticeably warmer in October or November than it is the dead of winter out of the equation, there are a number of ways this would also help the DADA. Back to the car lots…