Detroit Today: Analyzing the struggles of the Detroit Auto Show

Automotive News Executive Editor Jamie Butters discusses why Detroit’s long-running auto show has struggled recently, and how the automotive industry is changing.

For over a century, Detroit has celebrated its role auto industry and by playing host to the acclaimed North American International Auto Show — one of the largest auto shows in the country. But through the years, as the industry has shifted and auto show has changed as a result.

Once something that was just an opportunity to show off Detroit’s cars on expensive carpets, the show changed in 1989 when it was renamed and began highlighting more global brands. The event recently changed again, moving from a January to a September date.

Editor’s note: WDET reached out to the auto show, and received a response from Rod Alberts, Executive Director Detroit Auto Dealers Association, who helps run the show. He wrote the following: 

“The Detroit Auto Show is part of the fabric of the city. And just like Detroiters, we keep moving forward. The 2023 Detroit Auto Show will have more vehicles and new experiences for our guests — all of which benefit our industry, the City of Detroit, and our great State of Michigan.”

Listen: Why the Detroit Auto Show has been struggling.


Jamie Butters is the Executive Editor of Automotive News and co-host of the Automotive News’ Daily Drive podcast. He recently wrote a column about how the Detroit auto show is “poised to disappoint again.”

Butters says the auto show should change to be more educational, focusing on how electric vehicles and automated vehicles work.

“It’s a challenge to do this show, and I want it to succeed, but if we’re not honest about what the situation is — what isn’t working — than nothing can be done to fix it,” says Butters.

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