In years past, this week of January is reserved for reporting on the big North American International Auto Show held in Detroit. That is not happening this year because after much consideration the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, the show's promoter, has rescheduled the event to June. Not only will that make for a literal warmer welcome to the five thousand or so journalists that cover the NAIAS, it allows the organizers to expand the event beyond the walls of the TCF Center (formerly known as Cobo Hall), allowing attendees to enjoy more than just displays presented inside.
As part of the run-up to the first summertime NAIAS, which officially opens with a Media Preview on June 9 and 10, the Motor Bella European street festival celebrating Italian and British car cultures will be held June 5-8 next to the Detroit Opera House, just a 20 minute walk from the TCF Center.
From June 8th through the 11th, Dataspeed Inc. and FEV North America Inc. will be providing autonomous shuttle service Detroit Metropolitan Airport to downtown Detroit for media and industry preview attendees as part of the NAIAS 2020 Michigan Mobility Challenge. It has already been announced that at least five makers of self-driving technology will have autonomous vehicles running around downtown Detroit during the NAIAS.
In recent years, particularly since the economic recession a decade ago, the NAIAS, once a de rigueur event for automakers worldwide, has seen many European luxury brands abandon the show. Two years ago, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Porsche announced they were joining Maserati and Ferrari on the sidelines of the Detroit show.
Detroit's economy has turned around quite a bit in the past 10 years, though, with employment in Wayne County now at near record lows. With the changing economic conditions and move to a warmer time of the year, perhaps some of those luxury European brands will return. Maybe that's why the Motor Bella event has apparently prompted Ferrari to make a semi-official return to the NAIAS. Ferrari will be hosting its own simultaneous event in Parker's Alley just a few blocks from the Opera House.
It's a good chance that there will also be some exotics bearing the prancing horse at NAIAS' “The Gallery”, an invitation-only private event with ultra-luxe vehicles for high-rollers to be held June 7. Formerly sited at the MGM Grand casino, The Gallery will also take advantage of the scheduling change to move outdoors.
Also moving outdoors will be some vehicle debuts during the media preview. While the NAIAS has been the scene of some over the top vehicle introductions, with cars smashing through glass walls and being dropped from the ceiling, going outside will undoubtedly allow some automakers to increase the scale of their debut events. Helicopters are not out of the question.
Another outdoor event will be the annual Charity Preview, which takes place this year on the evening of June 12. In addition to the all-access $400 black-tie event on the NAIAS show floor, the Charity Preview will also have a $200 outdoor-access ticket with a “summer chic” dress code.
The public days for the NAIAS will be June 13-20 this year. In addition to the usual fare inside the convention center, outdoors there will be test rides, demos of autonomous and off-road vehicles, along with a presentation of drift cars on the convention center's massive roof.
With the change in weather, we would love to see the collegiate Formula SAE teams that have annual displays be persuaded to run a race during the event with a few laps around TCF. With so many journalists in attendance, that seems like a natural way to promote the student engineer/racers. See you this summer in the D!