The surface optics of Mercedes’ reported plans are shocking given how much of a presence the company usually has in Detroit. This year alone, the German automaker occupied a premium spot in the show. It also held a massive event in downtown Detroit to unveil the redesigned G-Class. Hell, Arnold Schwarzenegger even took the stage with Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche to discuss the new SUV.
But the truth is far more complicated than what this generalized picture presents. By and large, auto shows don’t hold the same esteem as they once did because automakers have found better avenues to showcase its products. The Consumer Electronics Show is a good example. According to a senior Mercedes executive, these “new venues” are a big reason why the automaker could be absent in Detroit next year. "We have to look at whether a trade show like Detroit fits with the cadence of our launch calendar and whether there’s a more effective format for our needs," the senior executive told Auto News. "The G class was the perfect product to debut this year, but the likelihood we will be in Detroit next January is very slim. That doesn’t mean however we are ruling out a return in 2020."
Mercedes is far from the only automaker that’s reconsidering its options. Brands like Mazda, Volvo, Porsche, and Jaguar made their decisions a long time ago. That’s why they weren’t in Detroit last month. If Mercedes does decide to skip Detroit next year, it would be the latest in a long line of auto brands to sit on the sidelines in what traditionally is one of the biggest auto shows in the world.
A Mercedes withdrawal would be significant, particularly for Mercedes dealerships in Detroit who traditionally rely on the buzz of Merc’s presence in the show
A Mercedes withdrawal would be significant, particularly for Mercedes dealerships in Detroit who traditionally rely on the buzz of Merc’s presence in the show to drum up increased business for their dealerships. Chuck Ghesquiere, owner of Mercedes-Benz of Bloomfield Hills in suburban Detroit, told Auto News that Mercedes’ plans to withdraw from next year’s show “will be a tough break for us.”
It’s hard to imagine Mercedes’ withdrawing from Detroit for any other reason than streamlining its own bottom line. As big of a presence as Ford, General Motors, and Chevrolet have in their hometown show, Mercedes is big enough to make its own headlines in the event, regardless of what the Big 3 American companies do.
This decision, if it comes to that, is being made to cut costs and explore new ways to make standalone presentations. We’ve already seen a growing number of companies attend CES, and Mercedes has even experimented with its own shows, including hosting the Me Convention during Frankfurt’s auto show in September with South by Southwest, organizers of the annual music and technology festival in Austin, Texas.
It’s the sign of the times. Mercedes is just adapting to it, just like Volvo, Porsche, Jaguar, and Mazda.
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