Could 2016 be the beginning of the end of the auto show as we know it?

  • TECH
  • Monday, 28 Dec 2015

Car power: Ford returns to CES 2016 with Ford GT as official show vehicle.

As the US gets ready to host the first official international auto show of the new year in the heart of its Motor City (Detroit), the list of carmakers choosing to pass on the event is almost as long as the list of new cars expecting to make their debut.

When the North American International Autoshow opens its doors to the public on Jan 11, it will do so without Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini or McLaren. That doesn't mean that the show will be a disappointment — the new Mercedes E Class, one of the marque's most important cars, will be making its global debut, as will the new Porsche 911 Turbo.

However, as the list of attendees at this year's event has contracted, the number of car companies heading to the International CES — a trade show for consumer electronics — has never been longer.

"Ford was the first automaker to have a significant presence at CES nine years ago, and we are proud to continue that legacy of innovation in 2016," said Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company.

" CES is the perfect venue for sharing news on our efforts to change the way the world moves and provide new solutions in the areas of connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and data and analytics."

As well as a headline sponsor in the shape of Ford, Audi will be demonstrating its production-ready semi-autonomous car, Volkswagen will be showing off a plug-in electric reimagining of its iconic Microbus campervan and BMW is expected to raise the roof on a convertible version of its ultra high-tech i8 environmentally-friendly supercar.

January's CES will also be the venue where Toyota formally outlines its plans for artificial intelligence and gives its first demonstrations of connected vehicle and telematics systems.

All of which means that as the convergence between high-tech and cars continues apace, the motor show as we know it could be coming to an end. There has not been an official auto show in Britain for a decade due to the high cost of attendance £5mil (RM21.5mil) per car company, plus the small European market share the country represents.

It's also likely that other shows that were once an integral part of the calendar could soon go the same way. As well as Detroit, the US hosts the Chicago, New York and LA auto shows every year while in Europe, which is just as large a market, there are only two shows a year: Geneva and, for 2016, Paris.

Over the past 12 months, Volvo has been experimenting with different digital ways of reaching and interacting with customers — from virtual reality headsets to virtual, online showrooms — while at the same time drastically reducing the number of car shows it attends. Ironically, Detroit is one of only three shows that Volvo will attend in 2016.

However, expect the company to be at the International CES as well. — AFP Relaxnews
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