Detroit Auto Show might move from January to October, and here's why

How does a fall car show on the riverfront sound?

As we've reported occasionally over the past several years, auto shows have been in decline, with more automakers deciding which shows to attend and which to sit out, and how otherwise to spend their marketing money. Or, in the case of the Detroit Auto Show, automakers have had to choose between it and the Consumer Electronics Show, which has increasingly become a car show as cars have increasingly become rolling consumer electronics devices.

Well, the North American International Auto Show, aka the Detroit Auto Show, may have an answer to that last problem, at least. It's seriously considering moving the show from its traditional January dates out into October, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and Crain's Detroit Business.

The latest defector from NAIAS may be Mercedes, which would be the largest and most prominent automaker to announce its withdrawal, even though this year it debuted its all-new G-Wagen in Detroit and even went so far as to suspend an old G-Class in amber in the Cobo Center lobby. Several other automakers have bailed on Detroit altogether or have assumed a diminished presence — among them Mazda, Mini, Mitsubishi, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin. Tesla has no interest. Volvo camped out in one little corner of the lobby this year instead of the main floor, and also on the fringes were a smattering of exotics such as Bugatti, Lamborghini and Ferrari.

Related: 2018 Detroit Auto Show mega photo gallery

So OK, move the dates, what does NAIAS have to lose? Well, it's complicated. For one thing, setup for the massive show takes three months, and Cobo has events going on in September. So an October show might wind up being a little less ... showy, thrown up much more quickly with less-elaborate displays and lighting. But if the change brings more cars back to Cobo, we'd be happy to have less sizzle if it means more steak, right?

Also, NAIAS has Cobo booked for Januarys through 2025, so a contract would have to be renegotiated.

One bright side: An October show means some of the exhibits could be outside in beautiful fall weather along the Detroit riverfront. No more snowy, icy slogs to get downtown. And dates in mid- to late October would put two months of space between NAIAS and that other big Detroit auto event, the Woodward Dream Cruise. This year's Dream Cruise is Aug. 18.

If NAIAS does decide to move the dates, it won't happen until 2020, Crain's source said. Presumably that means there simply won't be a January show that year, rather than a January-October twofer.

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