Mitsubishi Opts Out of Detroit Auto Show

By Brendan Moore

11.21.2008

Mitsubishi says its going to take a pass on the Detroit Auto Show this year, joining Land Rover, Suzuki, Ferrari, Porsche and Rolls-Royce as auto manufacturers that won’t have a stand in Detroit this year. Mitsubishi cited the company’s push to save money wherever possible in the current economy. The Detroit Auto Show opens in early January.

Exhibition space is always at a premium in Detroit during the show, which is the largest in the world, and even with the aforementioned manufacturers absent, the show organizers expect that there won’t be enough space available to fill exhibitors’ requests.

Still, it is a troubling sign. The Los Angeles Auto Show, another one of the major shows in the world, and going on as I type this, was hit by several cancellations of new model launches and concept reveals by manufacturers this year. The culprit was the same; that is, the economy. Just as importantly, several senior auto executives canceled their travel plans for Los Angeles, which certainly didn’t help the show’s intent to maintain the perception that their event is an absolute requirement for any car company that wants to see and be seen in the automotive media.

The recent SEMA show also experienced some defections among previously reliable exhibitors, and again, financial concerns were the reason.

None of these shows are in danger of losing their positions on top of the international auto show circuit, but the current cutbacks are a sobering reminder of just how tight budgets are in the auto industry these days.

It should be noted that non-attendance at any show this year does not preclude attendance by a manufacturer next year, should they decide that it makes better economic sense 12 months from now. Of course, absence this year could translate into continued absences in subsequent years if the manufacturer decides that there just isn’t enough payoff for the money spent. This is exactly what has happened with Porsche. They stopped attending the Detroit Auto Show after 2006 (a boom year) and have not returned yet. It is precisely this type of scenario that worries auto show executives.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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