Have Changes in the Auto Industry Killed Car Shows?

Lisa Steuer McArdle
Oct 14, 2021 · 3 min read
The Chicago Auto Show in Illinois is one of the premier car shows in the United States. After being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the show returned. Manufacturers set up stands to show off their new cars.
However, according to NBC News, this recent Chicago Auto Show demonstrated how car shows may be on the decline. Less space and more manufacturers opting out bring the event's future into question.
closeup up of a blue car and a white car parked in an auto showroom.
Car shows may be on the decline.

The past and present of the Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show has the longest history of any car show in the United States, as it was first held in 1901. It takes place in McCormick Place, one of the largest and most recognized convention centers in the country. Most Chicago Auto Shows have taken place over 10 days and made use of one million square miles of show space.
Normally, the Chicago Auto Show takes place in February, but due to the pandemic, the 2021 show was delayed until July. Despite this delay, the Chicago Auto Show was the first major car show to take place in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.
This does not mean that everything is completely back to normal, though. This edition of the Chicago Auto Show was considerably smaller, taking place over five days instead of 10 and only using 500,000 square feet of space. Several major names opted to skip out of the show, including Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz.

Car show struggles before the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic put all major car shows on pause. However, even though this was the biggest obstacle facing car shows, it has not been the only one. Even before the pandemic, car shows had been on the decline in popularity.
For example, the Frankfurt Motor Show held their final event in 2019. Formerly one of the biggest car shows in Europe, attendance at the Frankfurt Motor Show had declined considerably.
Cars shows have struggled to maintain popularity among manufacturers as well. Previously, car shows were the best way for manufacturers to preview their vehicles to the public. Now, though, carmakers can showcase their vehicles online without paying the high costs of car shows.

The future of car shows

Even though some may worry that car shows are on their way out, others believe that there will still be a place for them.
While consumers can learn a lot about vehicles online, being able to physically get up close to the car can give them more information. Most people who attend car shows are there because they plan on purchasing a new vehicle soon.
To stay relevant, car shows will need to evolve with the times. To incentivize manufacturers to attend shows, some organizers are allowing them to do more with their space at the car shows. Some manufacturers are still attending shows but not as often, so show organizers are looking for new ways to make car shows appealing to them.
Whether you are going to a car show, browsing a dealership or looking online for your new car, you will still also need insurance for your vehicle. Just as car shows are changing, the ways we shop for insurance are as well.
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