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Howes: Does the auto show matter anymore?

Michigan Radio


The 2018 North American International Auto Showhas been holding media previews all week.

Tomorrow night is the black-tie Charity Preview, which raises millions for children's charities. The doors open to the public on Saturday.


But the Detroit Auto Show may not be as important as it once was. That's the conclusion drawn by Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes after this year's lackluster press days and a shift to holding events outside of the auto show.

Howes joined Stateside today to reflect on this year's Detroit Auto Show so far.

Listen above for the full conversation, or catch highlights below.

Ford’s Big Bet on Electric Vehicles

"Ford said they’re going to more than double what they spend on electrification from about $4.5 billion over a five year period to $11 billion. I think maybe the quote of the week so far is from Bill Ford Junior, the executive chairman, who said, “We’re going all in on electrification, we just hope customers follow us.""

Lack of home team participation

"Detroit held an auto show and its hometown automakers didn’t show up. What I mean by that is during the first two press days, you only had one traditional Detroit manufacturer, Fiat Chrysler, that held one press conference for its Ram brand on Monday, and another one for Jeep on Tuesday. No press conferences from General Motors or Ford on either of those press days."

"As a result, you see a lot more targeting and really being able to use the power of the internet to focus on who their audiences are to make these kinds of decisions. No longer is the auto show all things to all people, including the media."

Focus on Domestic Media

"I think generally more automakers are starting to employ offsite events that are not contiguous to the auto show. For example, they (Fiat Chrysler) launched their autonomous vehicle last week and made the news about that. Ford did the same thing with the Ranger, on Sunday afternoon. General Motors showed its Chevy Silverado a month ago in Texas. They did an event Saturday night, the only people doing an event Saturday night, before the press days."

"We’re reaching the audience we want to reach. We don’t need to reach the European, the Asian media to sell a pickup truck. We need the Americans, Detroiters, and the regional people whose publications are read by our buyers. Their buyers of Chevy pickup trucks are not in Japan, South Korea or Germany."

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