Suburban Collection Showplace aims to create new January auto show

With the Detroit auto show moving to June in 2020, a new winter show is afoot. The Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi is organizing its own regional auto show to fill the void in January, the event center confirmed to Crain’s.

The Southeast Michigan Auto Show is planned to take place over a weekend, Friday, Jan. 3 through Sunday, Jan. 5.

Tickets for the show are expected to cost $10 for ages 13 and up; $5 for children aged 6 to 12; and presumably free for children under six years old, according to documents the Showplace distributed to local dealers and viewed by Crain’s.

The event would include a VIP cocktail kick-off event on the night of Jan. 3 as well as seminars, an outdoor and indoor ride-and-drive experience, kid-friendly activities and merchandise vendors, according to the circulated document.

Organizers say they have designed The Southeast Michigan Auto Show as a consumer-focused event as opposed to the international, media-driven flair of the North American International Auto Show held annually at Cobo Center, Blair Bowman, president of the convention center, told Crain’s.

“The event has been put together with the idea of supporting the dealer community in the area, which is extremely important to our economy,” Bowman said. “And is coalescing in a time frame where this is otherwise a gap. This is something that is totally distinct from the new, very cool, re-imagined and obviously reinvigorated event downtown in June.”

Bowman hopes the Southeast Michigan Auto Show can support in a more formal way the North American International Auto Show.

“We believe the two events will be mutually enhancing, and we want to work with and offer anything our event can do to educate attendees on what will be happening downtown (at the Detroit auto show next June),” Bowman said. “We are hopeful and expecting that to happen.”

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, however, doesn’t appear on board as of yet.

“”The NAIAS and DADA are not involved in the upcoming Southeast Michigan Auto Show, a three-day local dealer event,” Amanda Niswonger, spokesperson for the Detroit show said in a statement to Crain’s. “We are focused on making the 2020 NAIAS the biggest and best event of its kind, creating more opportunities to engage industry, media and consumers from around the globe and showcasing the industries latest products and technology in the beautiful city of Detroit.”

Bowman confirmed several automakers and dealerships have signed on to participate in the event, but declined to provide more detail.

Troy-based dealer group Suburban Collection, the largest dealer group in Southeast Michigan with $2.3 billion in revenue in 2017, signed a multimillion-dollar naming rights deal for the 320,000-square-foot convention center in 2010. It’s unclear whether the group has involvement the in January auto show and was not immediately available for comment.

Two other local dealer groups contacted by Crain’s declined to comment whether they planned to be involved in the event.

Suburban Collection Showplace
The Suburban Collection Showcase is located on Grand River Avenue between Taft and Beck roads in Novi.

A formal launch of the event is expect in the near future, Bowman confirmed.

The Novi show is expected to focus exclusively on cars and trucks currently available on dealer lots, sidestepping the future landscape of mobility that is changing the NAIAS.

The DADA decided to move the Detroit show to June 2020 last July amid pressure to refresh the event. The decision was propelled by a need for automakers and suppliers to showcase new technologies, such as autonomous cars, crash-avoidance systems and ride-sharing applications, that are better experienced outside Cobo’s walls during warm weather opposed to Detroit’s often oppressive winter.

The move to June is also designed to consolidate automakers’ product reveals back into the show itself. In recent years, many have chosen off-site locations to unveil new products, seeking to maximize coverage without competing with other companies’ products.

Mercedes, BMW and Audi skipped the final winter Detroit auto show in January as automakers rethink marketing strategies. NAIAS also ran back to back with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which forced many auto companies to choose between the two.

This week, NAIAS unveiled some of its plans, which include expanding the show to an additional 1 million square feet at Hart Plaza, panel discussions held at the adjacent Crowne Plaza hotel and a shortened press preview.