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President’s Letter: NAIAS Evolution Is Good for Region’s Economy

By Sandy Baruah 

For Michiganders and thousands of automotive enthusiasts across the world, January in Detroit means one thing: it’s auto show time in the city. The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) — Detroit’s pre-eminent event — celebrates all that our region and its legacy industry offer. It is the symbol of a region and industry reborn.

NAIAS is as synonymous to the Motor City as Lafayette or American Coney Island. The auto show is the epitome of Detroit and Michigan’s automobility leadership and innovative spirit. From the cool car unveils to catching a glimpse of tomorrow’s technology rapidly being developed and deployed in Michigan, no other event captures the excitement and transformation taking place in the industry.

One of the most influential global automotive events, NAIAS touches all facets of the industry and attracts the largest concentration of the world’s top industry leaders – from automakers and suppliers, to tech startups and venture capitalists, to universities and policymakers. Last year alone, more than 809,161 people attended the show over its two-week run. The economic impact to our city and region: an estimated $480 million.

Additionally, as Michigan positions itself as the epicenter of the traditional automotive industry and a leader in the creation and innovation of next-generation mobility solutions, the immense impact of the global media telling Detroit’s story during NAIAS is invaluable. In 2018, more than 5,000 credentialed journalists from 23 countries and 37 states experienced firsthand the convergence of automotive and technology taking place in Michigan. No other place on the planet is better suited to tackle the mobility challenges of our shared connected, electric, autonomous future while meeting the needs of today’s consumers.

Keeping the show in Detroit is critical to our local economy and the decision by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association to move NAIAS to June 2020 should be commended. At a time when the industry is changing rapidly, evolving the format of NAIAS to match that excitement makes sense. As automakers are making important decisions on what shows to attend, a summer show format will keep Detroit competitive.

The warmer summer season opens NAIAS up to endless opportunities for automakers and suppliers to showcase the latest advancements in mobility solutions and vehicle design both inside Cobo and on the streets of Detroit, building on the city’s rich history as an automotive powerhouse and global newsmaker. What better way to continue to show that Michigan is the place to create, innovate and move the world than a monthlong celebration of automotive beginning with the Grand Prix and culminating with NAIAS?

This change also provides the premier backdrop to showcase the new investment, businesses, public space revitalization, and quality of life our region enjoys.

As we close another chapter in NAIAS’ spectacular history, I look forward to what the future holds for Detroit and the auto show. Walking the show floor and viewing Michigan’s finest ingenuity up-close is something I look forward to every year. And now, I won’t have to remember my coat. See you at the show.


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