Mercedes Benz Won't Come To The 2019 Detroit Auto Show? Public Profile Edit Profile Sign Out >Phoning it in at the Detroit auto show: Quieter car gathering precedes shift to summer Posted January 16, 2019 at 7:00 AM An unusually spacious corridor on the showroom floor of Detroit's Cobo Center during the North American International Auto Show, Jan. 15, 2019. With the Detroit auto show preparing a shift to summer dates in 2020 and several major automaker's opting out of the last January exhibition, the 2019 event appeared quieter and less extravagant than in years past. (Tanya Moutzalias | firstname.lastname@example.org) By Gus Burns | email@example.com A big announcement was scheduled for Tuesday morning on the main stage at the Detroit auto show. It was cancelled. Instead, they phoned it in -- literally. Ford and Volkswagen plan to build trucks and vans for each other. The potentially historic partnership was announced in a conference call. Is was one of many signs of a quieter North American International Auto Show this year. Thousands of journalists gathered once again in the Motor City for a look at the latest technologies and designs in the auto industry. The impressive machinery was there. But the usual excitement was missing. “You start to notice once you start to think about it, that some of the quality and some of the quantity just isn’t here because the automakers chose not to be here,” said Detroit-based Associated Press reporter Jeff Karoub, who’s covered the last 11 auto shows.A quarter of the 2019 Detroit auto show’s floor is dedicated to RK Rally cars. Each are very very spaced out. A QUARTER. This place is empty. And it’s just a sad end. #NAIAS pic.twitter.com/nww6LQv7Sx— Joel Feder (@joelfeder) January 14, 2019 The Detroit River, glazed with sheets of ice beneath low hanging, gloomy clouds, flows right outside the tall rear windows of Cobo Center. It’s the kind of scene that’s expected during the annual Detroit auto show. It’s Michigan. It’s winter. But inside, the massive convention center has always been vibrant in early January with an elaborate exhibition of glistening, expensive new vehicles and warmly optimistic executives. This year’s two-day media preview seemed different, as if automakers were holding back, halfheartedly going through the motions as they await the show’s move to summer in 2020. While the vehicles on the showroom floor are just as shiny, they seem more sparsely spaced. A large food court sits along the back wall of the showroom, where in years past there would have been no room. Parts suppliers who crammed displays into whatever corner was available in past years were sprawled comfortably all over the showroom this time around. On the first full day of the show, an electric concept car broke down just as it was being introduced on stage. In another bit of unfortunate timing, a water main break just before the start of the show led the city to issue a boil water advisory in Downtown Detroit. Cobo crews had to shut down water fountains and post warning signs.Detroit auto show, Cobo Center. Unfortunate timing for Downtown Detroit water main break. #NAIAS2019 pic.twitter.com/rlU8YIVkCD— Gus Burns (@GusBurns) January 14, 2019 Major automakers, like Mazda, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche and Audi were conspicuously absent. “I think, when they’re looking at their budgets and they’re trying to get more bang for their buck, some of them are choosing not to do this show -- and Detroit’s not alone," Karoub said. " ... They are (instead) having those stand-alone events, they are using digital ... I think they are looking to carve out they’re space, and it’s difficult to carve out space on the Cobo Center showroom floor." With automakers paying more attention in recent years to the Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas' massive January technology showcase, and even to other auto shows in Chicago and Los Angeles, Detroit organizers in 2018 announced plans to move the Motor City gathering from January to June in 2020. Karoub expects the move to a summer show could “spice things up,” and compel some absent automakers to make their return. “I think automakers can still make their way and make a statement here if they want to, and some who left may come back -- maybe next year, June 2020," he said. " ... I don’t think it means the auto show is dead, it just means it’s different.” Detroit auto show moves to June in 2020 Where is everybody? Absence of European auto makers stands out at Detroit auto show There were about 30 vehicle introductions in Detroit this year -- the 2020 Toyota Supra stealing the spotlight, according to Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which sponsors the event. That’s a sharp drop from last year’s count: 69. And the press conferences lacked the gimmicky pizzazz of the past -- less smoke, lasers, celebrities and theatrics. There was no cattle drive, like the one Dodge Ram staged outside Cobo Center with 120 longhorn steer and authentic Oklahoman cowboys in 2008. Hyundai, whose Kona won 2019 utility vehicle of the year, simply whisked silky sheets off the vehicles parked on a plain stage. Other than a video montage displaying historic Detroit auto show images on the screen behind them, there were no frills. “Biggest auto show of all,” read a sign spotted in one of the nostalgic photos from 1960s. Chicago’s auto show, however, claims to be larger, although organizers of that show don’t release attendance figures. Best of the 2019 Detroit auto show The music of live performers, the likes of ex-Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland, who performed in 2014; pop star Bebe Rexha, who performed in 2017; smaller regional acts like Detroit-based Flint Eastwood, who played in 2018, were replaced with pre-recorded videos and the murmur of chatting reporters and photographers. Arnold Schwarzenegger joined Mercedez-Benz for a presentation in 2018. Bob Seger and Kid Rock strolled the showroom floor. Vice President Joe Biden perused the showroom 2017 and Jerry Seinfeld pit-stopped in 2015. This year’s best-known celebrities may have been 1994 World Cup U.S. Soccer defenseman Alexi Lalas and a YouTube sensation whose name escapes this reporter. Even Michigan state police, who hosted a recruiting booth in recent years, is sitting this year out. “It’s just a change of plans, nothing to do with the auto show,” state police Lt. Michael Shaw said. "We didn’t really have a lot of success at the show, as far as recruiting ... “It wasn’t effective for us.” A rundown of all the vehicle unveilings from the 2019 Detroit auto show > A robot on display at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., Jan. 15, 2019. Tanya Moutzalias | firstname.lastname@example.orgDespite the changes, there’s still plenty to see at the 2019 Detroit auto show -- robots, a hydraulic Supra simulator, Hyundai video racing games and test rides in a 2020 Kia Telluride through a section of showroom transformed to look like a rugged forest, complete with dirt mounds and living vegetation. The 2018 show drew 809,000 attendees, 39,000 auto industry professionals, sold 12,714 tickets to the annual charity gala and hosted more than 5,000 media. It’s yet to be seen if this final winter show will outperform years past, or if it will slip into hibernation, hopeful to awake refreshed and larger upon its return in the summer of 2020.