It’s Official: The Detroit Auto Show Abandons January and Moves to June

The new version of the iconic auto show will include an outdoor area for debuts and drives.

The century-old Detroit Auto Show, otherwise known as the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), has been officially rescheduled from the month of January to June. The new date will not go into effect until the 2020 edition of the iconic event.

Rumors that NAIAS was looking to change its dates began spreading within the automotive media immediately after the conclusion of this year’s auto show, but this had been the case in years prior, too. After all, everyone who attended the show, media and fans alike, held a love-hate relationship with its traditional date of early January due to the frigid temperatures and mountains of snow that often had to be battled in order to make it to the COBO Center, where the show has been held since 1965.

Back in March of this year, we learned that the show’s management was exploring the idea of moving the show to a different time of the year, but it was merely a “consideration.” However, in a phone conversation with Max Muncey, the show’s public relations manager, The Drive learned on Monday morning that the show festivities will begin on the week of June 8 in 2020.

“At some stages, we discussed these changes with a few hundred people, so it was sometimes difficult to keep things from leaking. A little bit here and there leaked out, but ultimately we did a great job containing it,” said a relieved Muncey. “It’s finally out!”

To most show attendees, NAIAS is simply a place to go look at cool cars and enjoy the latest and greatest from the automotive industry, but to the media and the automotive industry, NAIAS is one dot on a large map that circles the world over the course of a year. Until now, NAIAS kicked things off in January and was followed by the Chicago Auto Show in February and New York in April, before heading across the pond to Europe and Asia. And with Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris, and other shows like Tokyo and Shanghai to keep in mind, deciding on a new date wasn’t easy.

“We began by writing all 12 months of the year on the board, and we rapidly landed on two months: June and October,” said Muncey. “October would’ve worked nicely, but it simply would’ve been moving dates and not reenergizing the show like we really wanted to do.”

“It ultimately came down to June, as it fits in rather nicely with Frankfurt and Geneva and it gave us special opportunity to feature the city of Detroit rather than just show. There is so much technology nowadays that must be featured outdoors and we knew June would be our best shot,” he said. “Plus, June would allow us to showcase the ‘Detroit Summer’ which starts with the IndyCar Grand Prix on the first week of June and ends with the Ford fireworks event [which is nationally televised] at the end of the month.”


According to Muncey, the overall goal was to “break the mold” for the traditional auto show and changing its date to the summer will allow them to do so.

“The biggest factor for our shareholders was to reinvent the traditional show,” he said. “We had to get out of the mold and reenergize what we’ve been doing for 100 years. We couldn’t be confined by the walls [of the Cobo Center] anymore.”


The new date allows exhibitors to conduct dynamic outdoor activations for media and the general public, which will allow them to create more memorable product experiences. According to the statement, these experience will include dynamic vehicle debuts, ride and drives, autonomous/automated driving experiences, and off-road challenges.

With many European automakers like Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, Porsche, and BMW announcing their absence from the 2019 edition of the show, hopefully, the new dates will persuade them to bring new sheet metal to the Motor City.