Detroit's North American International Auto Show is looking to trade frigid temps and snowflakes for fall colors.
Officials of the signature U.S. auto show, held at Cobo Center and put on by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, are considering moving the show from its typical January runs dates to October, a person familiar with the discussions who requested anonymity confirmed to Crain's.
The potential move is propelled by a need for automakers and suppliers to showcase new technologies, such as autonomous cars, crash-avoidance systems and ride-sharing applications, that are better experienced outside Cobo's walls.
NAIAS officials have floated the idea for more than a year and continue to discuss the plans with automakers, suppliers, city officials and Cobo Center.
If the show moves, it wouldn't happen until 2020, the source said. The potential move was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
However, several hurdles would need to be surmounted the move a reality. Most notably, NAIAS and Cobo Center signed an $11.8 million contract in July to keep the auto show at the Detroit riverfront event space through 2025, and in January. Moving the show to October would likely require contract renegotiation.
The show's 12-week setup schedule would also likely have to be shortened. The show laborers begin setting up the January show in October of every year but moving the show would cause that timeline to be constrained as other shows typically occur in September.
The move has come under question privately, the source confirmed, due to large labor bills for automakers who must pay overtime and holiday pay to union laborers working through the many holidays ahead of the show, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.
Moving the show to October also would put space between NAIAS and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which typically occurs the week before the Detroit auto show.
Many automakers and suppliers are forced to choose one or the other to showcase technologies. Several have chosen CES in recent years.
For example, in 2012 Mercedes-Benz skipped NAIAS to unveil a self-driving car concept. In 2016, Audi AG sent a driverless car from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, live-streaming the trip for all the world to see, and Fiat Chrysler chose to debut its Chrysler Portal concept at CES in 2017 instead of NAIAS.
Moving NAIAS may provide the weather incentive to create more outdoor exhibits automakers appear to want in the favorable weather customers and showgoers desire.