VW stays with Detroit Auto Show in 2019 even as BMW, Mercedes pull out

VW doubles down on Detroit, happy to fill the space left by the others

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NEW YORK — Despite plans from fellow German carmakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz to pull out of the Detroit Auto Show in 2019, Volkswagen says it's sticking with the Motor City next year.

"We decided to attend the next Detroit motor show next year," said Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of Volkswagen's North American division.

Speaking to a small group of reporters at the New York Auto Show, where his company revealed a five-seat version of the Atlas SUV and an Atlas-based pickup truck concept called the Tanoak, Woebcken said the departures of other automakers from shows creates a void VW is happy to fill.

"We have no plans to reduce our U.S. motor show participation," he said.

Citing the launch timing for their upcoming products, BMW and Mercedes passed on the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. Both have had major displays in past years in the Motor City, the traditional start of the auto show circuit each January.

Detroit and other auto shows around the world are facing challenges as car companies take their messages and new products directly to the press and other influencers at standalone reveals and launch events. Auto shows are typically expensive outlays for carmakers, which must pay for floor space, logistics and other costs.

The Detroit Auto Show could move to October from its usual January slot, positioning it ahead of the Los Angeles (typically late November or early December) and Chicago (February) auto shows, and the Consumer Electronics Show (January). The move would also allow automakers to stage events outside, as Michigan's fall climate in October is much more favorable than dead-of-winter January. Conversely, it would then bump up against heavyweight European shows in Frankfurt and Paris, which alternate each September. A move to fall wouldn't happen until at least after the 2019 Detroit show.

The Detroit Auto Show dates to 1907 and is one of the most influential in the United States, drawing top global auto executives and thousands of media each year. It's the only American auto show certified by the prestigious OICA.

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