Turns out there might be a future for the Detroit auto show after all. The Michigan legislature today tagged $9 million for a one-time grant for the North American International Auto Show to re-start at some point in 2022.
It could be nearly four years between auto shows in Detroit after the last NAIAS in 2019 because the pandemic wrecked show plans for 2020 and 2021. The Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), which sponsors NAIAS, continued to run into ill fortune this fall when it staged an outdoor mini-exhibition in suburban Detroit that essentially got ruined by awful weather.
A renewed NAIAS, which would unfold next summer, would still face obstacles that have confronted all traditional auto shows lately. They include carmakers’ hesitancy to foot the huge costs of putting up displays and announcing new models and features at the exhibitions as well as the increasing convenience and effectiveness of making news digitally, without having to compete physically over a couple of days for the attention of throngs of journalists while their competitors try to do the same thing.
But at least the Michigan grant would give NAIAS a fighting chance. “This is just to help them get back, get them up and running again,” Michigan House Appropriations Committee Chairman Thomas Albert told Crain’s Detroit Business.
DADA Executive Director Rod Alberts, in a press release, said he’s “pleased state leaders have recognized the hardships and difficulties the show has faced over the past coupe of years — hardships directly related to covid.” He added that the “one-time funding will help put the show back on strong financial footing and go toward making a 2022 show the best one yet.”
Beyond boosting a car-dealer association that is a powerful economic and lobbying force in Michigan, the state legislature is looking after wider fiscal interests with the grant. NAIAS historically has been the biggest event in the city each year and has generated an estimated $400 million in yearly economic impact for the state’s hospitality, travel and construction sectors, according to Crain’s.