Unfortunately, this will mark the second year in a row that the crown jewel of the North American auto show circuit won’t proceed as scheduled. Except it isn’t. Instead of the traditional 2021 Detroit Auto Show hosted at TCF Center (formally Cobo Hall) and surrounding downtown areas, a multi-day event called Motor Bella will take place at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan in the fall.
Yes, the Detroit Auto Show is moving out of town.
The new dates for Motor Bella, née the 2021 Detroit Auto Show, aka NAIAS 2021, will be September 21 through 26, but the public will only be welcome there from September 23 to 26, just half the amount of days as traditionally observed. Media days will also be reduced from two to one. By moving the proceedings to M1 Concourse, the event can take place entirely outdoors, which helps it adhere to COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, the site’s 1.5-mile track will be available for technology and vehicle demonstrations to the assembled automotive media and public showgoers, which is a major advantage compared to other auto shows.
If M1 Concourse sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same location that Dodge has hosted the annual Roadkill Nights event the past couple of years. The venue is perfect for an event such as an auto show, due to its size and open space. It’s currently unclear if Roadkill Nights will take place in 2021. Nor is it clear if Motor Bella will be as fun as Roadkill Nights.
Naturally, the organizing body is presenting Motor Bella as the cure for the common auto show, and promising a festival-style atmosphere. The chance for people to see dynamic displays from performance vehicles or to witness their tech in functional circumstances could offer shoppers a much more immersive experience that may benefit vehicle sales in ways traditional static displays can never offer. Unfortunately, NAIAS organizers haven’t discussed which automakers will join the party.
“The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business,” said Executive Director Rod Alberts in the new announcement. “This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products.”
The last North American International Auto Show took place in January 2019, following which the event was set to abandon its traditional treacherous winter date in favor of an early summer show in June of 2020. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the show was eventually canceled on March 29, 2020.