Auto shows across the United States and Canada are about to get a lot emptier—and boring, too—as Stellantis confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it's officially pulling out of auto shows in North America.
UPDATE 1/4/24 8:30 am ET: Following The Drive's initial report, a Stellantis U.S. spokesperson issued the following statement to Automotive News U.S.: "To be as efficient as possible in our media spend, we are evaluating participation in auto shows on a case-by-case basis, while prioritizing opportunities for consumers to experience our vehicles firsthand." While clarifying that attendance to auto shows would be handled on a "case-by-case basis," a Stellantis U.S. spokesperson did not confirm to The Drive when the company would return to the auto show circuit.
Citing "a challenging automotive market" to Automotive News Canada, the automaker will be absent from the same demonstrations that have helped its nearly dozen car and truck brands connect with customers. Brands like Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram have enjoyed great success over the years partly because of their larger-than-life displays at auto shows, many of which included interactive activities. Some of Stellantis' smaller brands like Fiat and Alfa Romeo also benefited from additional exposure to customers who wouldn't otherwise visit their dealerships.
Displays like Camp Jeep were always big hits at the shows, as attendees could choose to ride or even drive Jeep vehicles through mock off-road obstacle courses of varying difficulties. Dodge offered similar experiences, too, allowing families to ride in Hemi-powered muscle cars as they launched off makeshift dragstrips.
"With a focus on preserving business fundamentals to mitigate the impact of a challenging automotive market in North America, Stellantis is working to optimize its marketing strategy as it relates to auto shows," Stellantis told Automotive News Canada.
Today's announcement isn't a huge surprise, really, given that the auto conglomerate had already announced its absence from last November's Los Angeles Auto Show and this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company says it'll leave it up to dealers to determine if they want to show up to local events in their respective cities. Meanwhile, a spokesman told the American version of Auto News that Stellantis' participation in future auto shows will be judged on a "case-by-case basis."
Big picture, this development once again calls into question the relevance of larger auto shows, especially as media spectacles, in today's mostly digital world. They can still serve a purpose in allowing potential buyers to get up close in person with a bunch of different vehicles, but with brands opting to connect with people digitally or in more private, exclusive gatherings, huge trade shows once packed with media, general public attendees, and hundreds of new cars are slowly going extinct.
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