2011 Detroit Auto Show: Hello, Novi?

May 6, 2009
under Wikimedia Commons license

under Wikimedia Commons license

Everyone complains about the Detroit auto show--and now someone's trying to do something about it.

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) could find a new home in the far western Detroit suburb of Novi, Michigan, if the latest efforts to keep the show vital are successful. The latest plan, reported by the Detroit Free Press, is to expand a convention center in Novi to accommodate the auto show, which is held in Detroit's Cobo Hall, pictured here in its usual January shade of grey.

The new Oakland County home for the show wouldn't be ready until 2011, which would leave it in Cobo Hall for 2010--and likely, minus a few more automakers who have declined to spend money at an auto show with a shrinking consumer audience, inside an aging facility, in a month that does nothing to burnish the reputation of the city. Last year, a handful of brands pulled out of the show--Nissan, Porsche and Suzuki among them--leaving main floor space available to new companies from China that don't even sell vehicles in the U.S. Yet.

Officials think it might cost up to $180 million to update the Rock Financial center in Novi to hold the show. The Detroit City Council recently turned down a $288 million plan to reinvent Cobo with new convention space.

For car fans, the decline of the Detroit auto show could be one more signal that the difficulties in Motown run far deeper than any quick fix.

[Detroit Free Press]

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