The massive no-shows at Frankfurt could be the start of a shift in ideology

For the longest time, auto shows were considered some of the most important events that any automaker will be involved in. They’re used as venues to showcase a company’s new concept, or more importantly, a new production model that’s making its world debut. But like everything else that evolves over time, the platform traditionally provided by auto shows has shrunk with the advent of global connectivity. Automakers can simply hold a smaller event of its own and still get the same results as they once did at these shows. It’s no wonder, then, that Automotive News is reporting that at least nine major automakers are skipping the Frankfurt Motor Show, one of the world’s biggest auto shows.

No reasons were given by any of these automakers on why they’re staying at home when Frankfurt opens its doors in mid September, but it is telling that these nine companies aren’t your run-of-the-mill, ambitious start-ups; they’re big players in the industry, including Fiat, Nissan, Infiniti, Alfa Romeo, Mitsubishi, Volvo, Peugeot, Jeep, and DS. So what’s happening? Why are automakers suddenly ditching these events? There are a number of reasons that they’re doing it, but all of these reasons point back to one inescapable realization: it’s not worth it to go to these shows anymore, no matter what the intentions are. It’s a damning case against events like Frankfurt, and while it doesn’t hold true across the entire spectrum of the business, the fact that more and more companies are shunning these extravagant events suggests that the glitz and glamour that have come to define shows like Frankfurt have lost a lot of their luster. And at this point, it’s hard to imagine a scenario of these shows getting them back.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

The potential reasons behind this exodus

Are Auto Shows Becoming Irrelevant In Today's Automotive World?
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Arguably the biggest reason automakers are skipping major auto shows boils right down to money.

Let’s get right to the point here. Arguably the biggest reason automakers are skipping major auto shows boils right down to money. That’s it. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It’s especially true for a show as big as Frankfurt, considered as the only show that’s on par with the Geneva Motor Show as the biggest of their kind in the world. The fact that Frankfurt is only held once every two years adds to its appeal so the cost of going there can be incredibly expensive.

Automakers didn’t think too much of it before because they could always rely on engagement from the media and those who show up at the event, but that’s changed, too, because of the technological advancements attached to global connectivity. These days, it’s so easy to capture the world’s attention. Somebody can be on his couch and post a video that can quickly turn viral, attracting millions of views in the process. Automakers know this now and if they’re really looking for engagement of this level, they don’t need to attend a costly auto show to get it.

2018 Jaguar E-Pace High Resolution Exterior
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Take a look at what Jaguar did when it revealed the E-Pace last month. It didn’t wait for Frankfurt or any other auto show. Instead, it did it in London, much closer to its headquarters.

For one, they can attend smaller shows to cut costs and still get the same traction. Even better, they can just host an event themselves and invite the whole world to see it through their various social media platforms. You know the cost of doing that? Probably next to nothing compared to bringing these cars halfway around the world to attend a show that itself only runs for a week. Take a look at what Jaguar did when it revealed the E-Pace last month. It didn’t wait for Frankfurt or any other auto show. Instead, it did it in London, much closer to its headquarters. And they ended up getting the same amount of global media attention for it as they probably would’ve had they done it in Frankfurt.

Customer behavior can also be looked at as an indication that auto shows are quickly losing their popularity. Unless you’re part of the automotive press and you’re required to be at these shows to get scoops from manufacturers, customers can actually visit these events without leaving their couches. That’s what live streaming has done for us.

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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Remember when Mazda unveiled the next-generation MX-5 a few years ago? I attended that press conference from the comforts of my desk. I got what I needed from the press-con, saw the next-gen MX-5, and had enough to write some things about it. Imagine then that you’re just a fan. You see the same things that someone who attended did, but at zero cost.

All this isn’t to say that the current setup of auto shows is doomed to fail. It’s not and I don’t think it will ever come to do that as long as some automakers are still willing to go to these events. But the landscape of auto shows has changed drastically over the years that they can no longer look at themselves as the places to be for a world debut or a launch of a new concept.

There are many more venues to do that now at much cheaper costs. That’s why these nine automakers are skipping Frankfurt, and for what it’s worth, don’t be surprised if more start doing the same in the future.

References

Jaguar E-Pace

2018 Jaguar E-Pace
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Read our full review on the Jaguar E-Pace.

Mazda MX-5

2016 Mazda MX-5 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Mazda MX-5.

Frankfurt Motor Show

2019 BMW X7 Computer Renderings and Photoshop
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Read our latest news of the Frankfurt Motor Show,

Source: Auto News Europe

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