The Auto Show circuit kicked off, as always, with the 2019 Detroit International Auto Show. which for the first time in decades, it was missing some big names. Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Porsche, Jaguar and Land Rover skipped the show in an official capacity this year, leaving Volkswagen as the only European automaker with a booth this year.
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Now it’s February and the Chicago Auto Show has just opened its doors to the public, but BMW and Mercedes-Benz will not be having a presence in the Windy City. The Chicago Auto Show has always been more of a “consumer auto show” showcasing cars that have already premiered, yet it’s still interesting that the two large German automakers have decided to not show their latest and greatest products.
Things are not getting better in Europe either. Luxury carmakers Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover are skipping the Geneva Auto Show in March, but BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz will be present in the Swiss city. Instead of making a splash as they usually have in the past, BMW will focus on showing to the public their electrification efforts through a series of new plug-in hybrids.
Next in the auto show tour is New York which begins with the media days at the end of March, but the glamorous event might also be missing one or more of the important names in the automotive world. More on that in the next few days.
The 2019 Shanghai Motor Show continues to grow year-over-year, so we expect most, if not all of the major automakers to introduce some cars at the largest Asian car show of the year. BMW is likely to introduce the all-new BMW X3 M and X4 M SUVs when the show kicks off in April.
With a large gap between April and September when the Frankfurt Auto Show usually starts, automakers have to look at other venues and events to introduce their growing fleets. Pebble Beach is one of those venues, but this year, we will see some other one-off exhibits – including one from BMW – where new models will be introduced.
We’ve seen these type of activation events in the past, from Volvo (V60 launch in Stockholm) to Audi (e-tron launch in San Francisco), but more are being planned in 2019. These unique type of venues will allow automakers to properly tell the stories of their cars, while allowing the general public some hands-on experience with the new products and services.
The 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show will kick-off the Fall auto show tour, but some of the automakers, including BMW, will scale down their exhibits. For the past decade, BMW has made a splash with their large display in Frankfurt, which consisted of an entire “Hall” and even indoor tracks.
In 2018, Handelsblatt reported that the Munich automaker will pay only about 5 to 6 million euros for auto show appearances, significantly down from the previously up to 25 million euros amount invested in major auto shows, such as the biennial German show in Frankfurt. The savings from the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show will be used to increase the budget for rising trade fairs in China or special technology events like the CES in Las Vegas or the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
For now, the November-December LA Auto Show is still an important venue for BMW, so we expect the West Coast show to be part of BMW’s plans for this year, but it remains to be seen what the 2020 strategy will be.
We believe that 2019 is an experimental year for BMW, and potentially other automakers, to assess the impact and ROI of unique, one-off events. Based on the data and results collected, the 2020 auto show strategy will be shaped up later in the year, especially with Detroit Auto Show moving to a June start time.