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Detroit (January, 2009)

Name: 2009 North American International Auto Show
Show dates: Press Days January 11 (Sun) – 13 (Tue), 2009
Industry Preview January 14 (Wed) – 15 (Thu), 2009
Charity Preview January 16 (Fri), 2009
Public Exhibition January 17 (Sat) – 25 (Sun), 2009
Venue: Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center

Outline and Impressions of Show:

The show opened amidst a slew of challenges, hit by rapid worsening of the automobile market from latter 2008 due to the global financial crisis that started in the US. Three Japanese automakers (Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki) and several European/US brands (Porsche, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari) cancelled participation and the US government bail-out of faltering GM and Chrysler was determined right before the show.

We sensed the difficulties faced by the organizer for the overall venue format. With the flurry of cancelled exhibits, Chinese automakers and exhibitors without major brands were moved to the main hall, and the vacant exhibition space was hastily converted to a clean energy vehicle test ride area.
Cost cutbacks were discernible with simplified booth designs. Japanese automakers especially were relatively plain. In contrast, German manufacturers (BMW, VW, Audi, etc.) showed spirit.

Top executives from the Big 3 (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) all made an appearance and conducted presentations mostly focused on environmental vehicles. GM set up a long track in the booth and cheering employees on both sides held up boards with statements such as “Here to Stay” and “Game Changer.” With this presentation for the media and an appearance by the Michigan governor herself, the urgency was perceptible.
As the Big 3 proceeded with streamlining while seeking federal aid, demonstrators quietly protested outside the venue carrying signs with messages such as “No millionaires left behind.”

Overall, the show organizers tried to be creative with the venue format so that the negative aspects of decreased exhibitors did not show, but were not completely successful. The glamour of past shows could not be replicated, but with savvy such as quickly converting vacated exhibition space to a clean energy vehicles test ride area, they were somewhat successful in minimizing the feel of a downsized show.
Opening Ceremony
Press briefing (GM)
Brilliance Auto Booth (China)
Clean Energy Vehicles Test Ride