(This story has been updated to include comments from organizers of the Chicago Auto Show.)
Hope springs eternal, at least with auto show organizers who have had to cope with a pandemic that is now entering its second year.
If all goes according to – the latest – plan, the Los Angeles Auto Show will be back after a lengthy delay in November. As things now stand, it could become the first major U.S. auto show since February 2020. But, considering the way the pandemic has dragged on, it could yet be pushed back into 2022, as is the case with the Chicago, Geneva and Detroit auto shows.
“Mark your calendar, 2021 AutoMobility LA — LA Auto Show’s press/trade event — has been rescheduled to take place November 17-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center,” event organizers said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. Immediately following AutoMobility LA, the LA Auto Show will open its doors to the public Nov. 19-28. For the latest show news and updates, follow us on social. We look forward to seeing you in November!”
COVID has crashed the auto show circuit
The auto industry has been hard hit since the coronavirus pandemic first struck the industrial center of Wuhan, China late in 2019 – the exact timing of the outbreak still being debated. By late winter the virus had swept through Europe and then into North America where it quickly led to a nationwide lockdown and a two-month closure of automotive manufacturing facilities.
The Chicago Auto Show, held in February 2020, turned out to be the only U.S. event of its kind last year and one of the few worldwide. Ironically, Beijing’s show did come together after being rescheduled for later last year.
There had been hope that 2021 would see the pandemic contained enough to allow the industry to resume major events, including car shows. But, with about 450,000 Americans now dead because of the disease, early hopes of a return to normalcy have been shattered.
Chicago 2020 was last major U.S. auto show
The Chicago Auto Show, scheduled for this month, was scuttled, with organizers in Geneva pulling the plug on that event, as well. The North American International Auto Show in Detroit also pulled plans for 2020, the year the event was to have moved from its traditional January date to June.
NAIAS organizers then tried to push out to September of this year before calling the event off again, at least until 2022. They haven’t given up entirely, with a scaled-back event, dubbed Motor Bella, set to take place at a private race track nearly 30 miles north of Detroit.
Chicago show organizers are not giving up entirely on 2021, TheDetroitBureau.com was advised in a statement Friday. “We are currently working with state and local authorities to find a timeframe that’s suitable to host a safe, yet still effective, Chicago Auto Show in 2021. A date in late Spring or Summer is very likely. Stay tuned,” said Chicago Auto Trade Association Senior Director Mark Bilek.
It’s unclear what will happen to the New York International Auto Show which was scrubbed in April 2020, the Big Apple’s Jacob Javits Convention Center taken over to serve as an emergency care center for COVID victims. Organizers still have a show on the books for the second half of August 2021 but numerous industry event organizers have told TheDetroitBureau.com they’d be surprised if it comes off as planned.
Most major auto shows pushed back til 2022
As for the L.A. Auto Show, it was last held in November 2019 and organizers have floated a variety of different dates to stage a return, ultimately settling on something close to their original timetable.
Whether they can make it happen this year could depend upon the success of the ongoing push to vaccinate millions of Americans in order to bring the pandemic under control.
As was the case last year, auto shows around the world also must cope with the pandemic. The Geneva Show hopes to return in early 2022 after canceling plans for next month. Also uncertain is what will happen with major events in Germany, Japan and South Korea later this year. The fact that the Beijing Motor Show took place at all in 2020 suggests organizers will try hard to bring off similar events in Shanghai and several other Chinese cities this year. But rising infection rates could put those plans at risk, as well.