Are auto shows dead after the pandemic? LA shows a little life


LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – What a difference two years makes. The 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show featured a parade of vehicle debuts, a flurry of press conferences and other events in the first two days, along with hundreds of thousands of people eager to see new. cars.

Fast forward to 2021. The Los Angeles Auto Show, the first major US auto show since the pandemic began, kicked off Wednesday with a single day of press events, with some automakers even skipping the show.

The show illustrates how the pandemic has accelerated the shift for automakers to the online world, as consumers buy more vehicles on the internet, although many still favor in-person tours.

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The LA Auto Show opened to the public on Friday for 10 days. A smaller crowd was waiting for the doors of an exhibition hall to open, and visitors were distributed among the convention halls.

“I would really love to see it with my own eyes instead of seeing it on the iPad all the time,” said Peter Borch, who traveled from Denmark to see Fisker’s Ocean electric sport utility vehicle.

“The size is larger than in the picture,” said Borch, 52, saying he had spent his entire pension to buy an Ocean, with deliveries starting at the end of next year.

Dustin Haug, 47, construction manager in Los Angeles, said: “It’s nothing like seeing a real car in person, touching it, feeling it.”

David Fortin, head of consumer marketing at the Los Angeles Auto Show, told Reuters that although online bookings are behind 2019 levels, they are “strong enough that we think we are let’s have a great year.

Honda (7267.T) and BMW (BMWG.DE) both skipped the show in favor of separate and prior events. Honda showcased a reincarnation of its iconic Integra prototype sedan at an event broadcast live in Los Angeles about a week earlier.

“It was an event that was exclusively ours. We find that we don’t have to compete like you do on auto show press days for attention,” Reuters told Reuters. Honda executive vice president Dave Gardner in an interview with Zoom.

Korean automaker Kia (000270.KS) has expressed a similar view.

“The pandemic has taught us that we can work differently.… There will still be auto shows in the future, but there will also be different types of presentations,” Karim Habib, director of Kia Design, told Reuters Center. spectacle.

Kia and its subsidiary Hyundai Motor were among the few automakers to launch electric SUV concepts at the show and brought in executives, including business leaders, from their Seoul headquarters to Los Angeles.

“Auto shows were very, very popular with automakers to make a big media splash. This has changed with social media and with other forms of consumer access to media,” said Brett Smith , chief technology officer at the Center for Automotive Research, said. “I think the pandemic may have been the last straw in all of this.”

Small businesses see a positive side to change.

“It gives us more attention,” Henrik Fisker, CEO of electric vehicle startup Fisker, told Reuters.

He said his Ocean SUV is a “hot sports car” best seen in person. “I know I’ve zoomed out. I think I don’t like sitting around looking at computers and photos anymore. I want to see the real things,” Fisker said.

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Alan Devall; Editing by Peter Henderson and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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