The Auto Workers Union has organized a strike against the three largest American car manufacturers demanding higher wages and other benefits. While negotiations continue, these automakers are touting their latest models at the 2023 Detroit Auto Show, an annual event that, as VOA correspondent Kane Farabaugh reports, has changed to meet the demands of consumers and new technology.
In this hall that has hosted the Detroit Auto Show for decades – this year there are fewer lights… fewer cameras… and less action.
“It’s not like it used to be when there were big, sophisticated shows,” says journalist Jeff Gilbert.
Reporter Gilbert covers the auto industry for Detroit radio station WWJ. He has attended the North American International Auto Show in Detroit for more than 30 years and says this year’s show reflects how technology is changing the way new models are advertised.
“The Internet has enabled car manufacturers to have more ways to present their cars, and they have realized that the days of discovering new brands in one place are gone, individual products don’t get the attention they deserve, he says.
Mr. Gilbert says that this year’s fair focuses less on international brands and more on the “Big Three” of the American auto industry – “Ford”, “General Motors” and “Stellantis”, the owner of the brands “Chrysler”, “Dodge”. ” and “Jeep”.
“In the past, people would come from all over the world to see the new models. “Now, Toyota is the only non-Detroit manufacturer that has its own showroom,” said Mr. Gilbert.
“I don’t see the same enticing effect as I used to,” says Toyota product specialist John Stemberg.
Mr. Stemberg is a product specialist at the manufacturer “Toyota”. He says that the Detroit fair allows this car manufacturer not only to present new models of vehicles, but also to show its investment in the domestic American market.
“We have 10 manufacturing plants in the United States. Of all the Toyota cars we sell in our showrooms, about 55 percent are made in America,” says Mr. Stemberg.
Ms. Dawn McKenzie, communications manager for Ford Trucks, says that introducing new products online gives the Michigan manufacturer more freedom to focus on other aspects of the show, such as testing the truck or car. electric of this brand.
“We’re seeing manufacturers, particularly us at Ford, experimenting with the trade show format, but not necessarily the massive press conference,” says Ms McKenzie.
Although some carmakers still hold press conferences, Ms McKenzie says Ford is now focused on the hundreds of thousands of potential buyers at the show.
“Consumers still like to visit the show and see the cars up close, sit in them, compare them, because although you can read reviews online, there’s no substitute for the experience of experiencing it yourself,” he said. she.
The Detroit Auto Show has been held since 1899. Although Toyota’s Mr. Stemberg says the extravagant unveiling of new products is a thing of the past, the Detroit Auto Show and other similar events held in the United States are not will be closed.
“Fifty million people still visit auto shows, and that presents a tremendous opportunity,” says Toyota’s Mr. Stemberg.
The 2022 Detroit fair drew only half the number of visitors compared to 2019 before the pandemic, but organizers expect to see an overall increase in visitors this year.