America has a huge array of car shows, big and small. Some are dedicated to classic cars, others to brand-new cars, and some others to particular vehicles like motorcycles, pickup trucks and heavily customized cars. Whatever the flavor, the thing that makes them popular is the same --- our collective love of all things automotive.
The car is an invention dating back to the 19th century, and one we have spent almost a century and a half honing, improving and steadily perfecting. Cars have also helped build up one of the world’s premier and most prestigious industries. Car brands have become a source of national pride, and the ability to manufacture cars or important car components a sign of a healthy economy. It is truly an iconic industry.
The Global Auto Show
Car shows are by no means confined to the United States or even to North America. When you look at the diverse range of countries that now produce some of the world’s most popular cars, it should therefore be no surprise that some of the biggest auto shows happen outside the US. Below are some of the biggest global auto shows, including some of the biggest in America.
1. Chicago Auto Show
Next scheduled date: February 13-21, 2021 --- 10am to 10pm
McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
We’ll begin close to home with the Chicago Auto Show, which is the single largest auto show in the United States. The event uses more than 1 million square feet of space split over two exhibition halls showing 16 categories of vehicles – everything from convertibles and hybrids to SUVs, super cars and concept cars. The show is so big and so diverse that the organizers find it hard to publish meaningful attendance figures. Average attendance is around 4 hours, but that ranges from people strolling in to just look at cars, to those taking part in outdoor test drives, interactive displays and much more.
The week-long event includes many special events and theme days. Examples include Sports Team Pride Day, Women’s Day, Family Day, Food Drive, Hispanic Heritage Day and more. The show is as much a charity drive as it is a huge collective effort to show our love for all things automotive.
2. Auto Expo
Next scheduled date: February 2022
Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
This is a bi-annual event started in the early 1990s, happening once every two years. It’s the second biggest auto show in the world, and the biggest in Asia. Even at a reduced turnout for 2020, it attracted 608,0,00 visitors, who came to see the more than 350 product displays from 108 exhibitors.
The event typically lasts for around 6 days, and attracts all the big names. Although there were concerns over falling automotive sales worldwide, and possibly concerns too over the start of the pandemic affecting attendance in 2020, the event attracted record numbers of new displays, including 8 global premieres and more than 70 launches and unveils.
Asia is a huge emerging automotive market, with Indian giants like Tata, as well as Chinese competitors like SAIC starting to make their presence known around the world.
3. Geneva Motor Show
Next scheduled date: Initially Cancelled for 2021, but Now Possibly Rescheduled for March 2021 as Media-Only Event
This premiere European car show is set in one of the continent’s most beautiful and wealthy cities, Geneva. The show features some 900 car exhibits and attracts around 600,000 visitors throughout the week-long event. It also sets the stage for 150 or more European and/or world premieres.
The saddest news is that the 2020 event may have been the last. The organizers announced in the summer of 2020 that the 2021 show would be cancelled, and that they desire to sell the rights to the show to others. Weakening demand for participation due to numerous factors, including the pandemic in the short-term, has contributed to this unfortunate turn in events. It’s a great shame because the Geneva show had been so prestigious and so popular in the past.
Some slightly better news that arrived in September is that the Geneva show might be back on in March 2021, but not as people have known it in the past. If returning in 2021, the plan would be to hold a media-only event over a much shorter three-day time period. We will await final confirmation.
4. London Motor Show
Next scheduled date: July 16-18, 2021
Evolution Battersea Park, London
Set in perhaps the world’s premier “Global City” (outside of New York, naturally), is the London Motor Show. Though somewhat shorter than the typically week-long events held by others, the London Motor show nonetheless packs some serious punch.
The show will feature more than 150 cars, some of which will be available for test drives. The event also will feature international DJ superstar Carl Cox showing off some of the most prized cars in his collection. In 2021, the big theme of the event will be emerging technology, so there will be great emphasis placed on electric cars and luxury brands, as well as a healthy dose of classic cars and city cars. Specific technology on display will relate to safety, EVs, fuel alternatives and even the future of driverless innovation.
5. Frankfurt Motor Show – Now in Munich!
Next scheduled date: September 7-12, 2021
Munich, Bavaria, Germany
While commonly known as the Frankfurt Motor Show, it is in fact the IAA Motor Show (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung). The IAA event had been held in Frankfurt up until the last time in 2020, after which it was announced in March 2020 it would be moving to the Bavarian city of Munich.
The IAA show in 2021 promises a whole new concept comprised of 3 parts --- the Summit, the Blue Lane and the Open Space. The Summit refers to the 600,000 square-meter display space with all the new technology, car unveilings and an exciting look to the future of the industry. It also features a conference with many prominent guest speakers and panel discussions.
The Blue Lane takes you from the Summit in the Munich Trade Fair Center to the Open Space in the city center. It’s a transfer route that will showcase Munich’s highlights as you travel to the Open Space using available cars, e-bikes and other forms of transport being showcased at the events. Finally, there’s the Open Space, which opens up the city’s most famous hotspots for additional exhibits, presentations and recreation. It’s all about getting out of the exhibition hall and into the city --- where the real customers are!
New Decade, New Century, New Car Shows For the globally minded car lover, it’s fascinating to see how the entire world embraces the automotive world with so much gusto. Our desire to get from A to B is a common thread that helps bind us together regardless of cultural, linguistic or political differences. But for many, the real “heart” of the industry isn’t found in these huge megalithic international conferences, but rather in the humble local shows that bring communities together.
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