The North American International Auto Show is in full swing this week for the public after a few busy media days and even a visit from President Biden last week.
After a three year hiatus, the show has transformed into a more experiential, indoor/outdoor celebration of Detroit with lots of new events – and less product debuts – than ever before.
Detroitisit spoke to Detroit Auto Show Chairman, Joe Lunghamer, owner of Joe Lunghamer Chevrolet in Waterford, MI, to learn more about the rational behind the changes of this evolving event.
DII: What was the greatest challenge for NAIAS between 2019-2022. How did you pivot?
JL: The greatest challenge over the past few years has been not knowing what to expect. The status of the pandemic and the restrictions that resulted were constantly changing as the situation evolved and we had to stay informed and make changes as time progressed.
While we had intended to include outdoor activities and attractions as we reimagine the show, the outdoor elements have been of even greater significance in this post-pandemic world.
DII: Why did NAIAS originally consider taking the Auto Show to an experiential event?
JL: Auto shows all over the world are evolving. Society has become accustom to being able to experience things, whether it be in-person or virtually, so we knew we had to evolve with what our OEMs and attendees wanted.
This new show will offer people the opportunity to experience the vehicles through interactive tracks inside Huntington Place, ride-and-drive events on portions of the 2023 Detroit Grand Prix track and they will witness the future of mobility with our air mobility partners.
DII: What was the response from the market (Detroit partners) while building the thinking about providing free outdoor activations in Hart Plaza for the family to enjoy with mobility and ride and drive activities throughout downtown Detroit?
JL: We have been working closely with the City of Detroit and the Mayor’s office as well as the Downtown Detroit Partnership (DDP) team and the response from all parties has been overwhelmingly positive. We’re proud to be able to offer free, outdoor activities to visitors.
DII: How does this approach of creating a citywide celebration of Detroit, its people, and its innovative spirit differentiate Detroit from other global auto shows in this new world of auto shows?
JL: As I mentioned before, auto shows are evolving, we can’t continue to simply offer cars on carpet for visitors to see. Detroit is on the leading edge of the transformation of auto shows. While we expect to see shows begin this transformation, we’re proud to be the first to bring a show like this to attendees.
DII: What has the response been from the OEM’s during the public show to appeal to a broad-based consumer audience with onsite activations?
JL: The response from OEMs has been positive, especially among our Detroit area automakers. The OEMs have embraced the interactive atmosphere and are bringing experiences to the show.
Jeep will bring Camp Jeep, Ford is bringing Bronco Mountain and Chevrolet will have a ride and drive EV available. There will be four interactive tracks inside Huntington Place and two ride-and-drive opportunities outside on portions of the 2023 Detroit Grand Prix course.
DII: How do you envision the future of the Auto Show in Detroit? On comparison to other markets?
JL: Detroit is on the leading edge of the transformation of auto shows. We will continue to evolve and continue to bring a show that fits the needs of OEMs and show attendees.
DII: How are you taking into consideration the needs of the local community?
JL: We’re proud to bring so many free, outdoor activities to the show, these are open to visitors of any age. We are also brining educational opportunities to local schools to allow school age children to experience the show with their school.
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