DETROIT — The organizers of the North American International Auto Show — considered the premier auto industry trade show as recently as 2019 — have canceled the rescheduled 2021 version set for September and instead will opt for an enthusiast-focused event at a racetrack in Pontiac, Mich.
Organizers cited the complications of organizing a large in-person event amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers anticipate having vehicle reveals and other events that typically take place at a traditional auto show at the racetrack. It was unclear whether the change in event format would be permanent or if organizers would return to a more traditional auto show in fall 2022.
The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which runs the show, said it would host a reimagined version of its "Motor Bella" concept at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Sept. 21-26, featuring 1.6 million square feet of display space. Organizers say the site also offers a 1.5-mile hot track on the grounds for technology and vehicle demonstrations.
Motor Bella was originally envisioned as a festival of European supercars to take place alongside the auto show in downtown Detroit.
"The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business," DADA Executive Director Rod Alberts said.
"This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products."
The Detroit auto show, which has not been held since January 2019, has changed dates multiple times. The event was supposed to move from January to June 2020, but was canceled because of the pandemic and rescheduled for June 2021. Organizers later rescheduled it for fall 2021.
"With our new program for 2021, we will take the Motor Bella concept to the next level with multiple brands and mobilities represented, from hometown to international nameplates, autonomous vehicles to high-performance supercars, and everything in between," Doug North, the event's chairman, said.
"It will be a mobility-filled event. One that will provide our show partners with a cost-efficient backdrop to share all of their brands, products and technologies in a fun and festival-like atmosphere that's completely outdoors."
The Motor Bella event will include a press preview on Sept. 21; an AutoMobili-D showcase Sept. 21-23; industry preview days Sept. 22 and 23; and a public show Sept. 23-26. Organizers said a charity event also is in the works.