October 16, 2021

Detroit Council wants a 2021 auto show to remain in Motor City, but don’t expect it

City Council on Tuesday sent a resolution to a committee for review. It urges the Detroit Auto Dealers Association to reconsider relocating the North American International Auto Show “from the TCF Center in 2021 and continue its sustained presence in Detroit, by honoring the contract it signed in 2018 to hold the show in Cobo (now the TCF Center), each year through 2026.”

he resolution must be approved by the Neighborhood and Community Services Committee before being voted on my the whole council. A resolution doesn’t require any commitment from the DADA, which runs the auto show.

In a statement, Rod Alberts, executive director of DADA, said the organization is “actively planning” to have an auto show in Detroit in 2022.  Alberts also said the association is in discussions to have an outdoor charitable event downtown this summer. More details are expected soon. 

“We understand, respect and appreciate the position of the Detroit City Council as well as that of Wayne County, however the current restrictions on the size and scope of indoor events make it impossible for the DADA to commit to a full-scale indoor event in 2021,” he said.

“There is too much uncertainty with the pandemic that still exists. Subsequently, our decision was based on prudent safety and business reasons. The auto show has been an integral part of Detroit for decades and will continue to be so, when the pandemic is behind us.”

The Detroit auto show generates roughly $400 million in economic activity each year. Its cancellation for this year is a major economic blow to a city already struggling with the global pandemic.  

“Mayor Mike Duggan has been in very positive conversations with DADA. He is expecting a good result,” said John Roach, city spokesman, in a statement referring to a 2022 show and the DADA’s long-term commitment to hosting a Detroit event.

The DADA announced in January that the NAIAS would not take place in Detroit this September. Instead, DADA is planning an outdoor event at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac. The event, called Motor Bella, is set to take place from Sept. 21-26 and will feature next-generation mobility displays and vehicle debuts.

Concerns over hosting large crowds indoors pushed show officials to develop an outdoor event. The last auto show took place in January 2019 before the show hosts pivoted to a summer event that was supposed to take place in June 2020, but the pandemic led to its cancellation.

General Motors Co. plans to have a presence at Motor Bella, but the plans are still being developed, said Terry Rhadigan, the executive director of communications operations and corporate giving. 

Ford Motor Co. declined to comment. Stellantis NV could not be reached for comment.