How important are auto shows to the industry?

Are auto shows necessary?

With the LA Auto Show set to begin this week, and Detroit’s North American International Auto Show beginning in January, this is a prime time to gauge the health of automakers around the world.

It’s no secret that the U.S. companies are facing their lowest sales numbers in a quarter-century, and their presence at these shows is a potent indicator of that.

Check this out: GM cancelled all vehicle unveilings at the LA show, in addition to canceling all planned news conferences. Chrysler is forcing local dealers to pay for the company’s exhibition space, won’t debut any new vehicles and has cancelled all news conferences.

Ford meanwhile has no plans to cut back, and will debut the 2010 Mustang complete with an extravagant party. They will also debut 5 other models including 2 new hybrids. It would appear, based on this information alone, that Ford is the strongest of the Big 3.

For the Detroit show, GM has announced that it has cancelled their traditional pre-show kickoff media party. Chrysler is considering cutting back or eliminating their legendary Detroit Firehouse party. Even foreign companies Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Land Rover and Suzuki have pulled out of the Detroit Show completely. Volkswagen cancelled their press conference and concept car debut for the LA show and rescheduled for Detroit.

The auto show industry is known for extreme extravagance, so I say all this with one question in mind:

Are auto shows a necessity for automakers or an expendable marketing luxury?





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