With the auto show season set to kick off with the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, many are wondering if there’s a future for traditional shows going forward. The reason many are asking this question is that what’s making headlines ahead of Frankfurt isn’t just cool cars and concepts, but who isn’t showing up this year. The list seems to grow each day with notable companies like Tesla, Nissan, Jeep, Infinity, Fiat, and Mitsubishi all taking a pass on the show this year. This is a clear sign that the industry as a whole is in a major state of flux. The other factor contributing to the conversation is that attendance for these shows has declined over the years with attendance at Paris down over 14 percent and Detroit saw steep declines last year.
Some industry experts are pointing to the revolution in automotive technology as one of the main things working against traditional auto shows, and note that consumers are more interested than ever in making sure their vehicles are connected. Driver interest in connected technology opens the doors for shows like the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas to steal away new car intenders. A prime example of this shift is how Mercedes-Benz now generates brand awareness using social media to showcase innovations to more people at a fraction of the cost than it used to when going to these shows. Another example is how Peugot now looks at car shows the same way they look at other marketing spends. If the spend does not generate a return in some form, then they scale back their commitment. This would have been unthinkable a few years ago. Looks like this is another industry that’s in for a rocky ride.