Show History

Detroit has hosted an auto show for over a century. For the first several decades of its existence, however, the show's focus was strictly regional. Then, in 1987, a visionary group of auto dealers within the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) asked a bold question: Why not make the event truly international in scope? Achieving this objective within only a few years' time, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) pursues a vision of continually redefining what it means to be an indispensable international event. To achieve this goal, the NAIAS continually introduces bold new ways to enhance attendees' experiences and deliver exceptional value to media, industry and the public.

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of NAIAS

Since 1907, over a century ago, with the exception of the World War II years, Detroit has hosted an auto show: the Detroit Auto Show.  Until 1989, the show’s focus was strictly regional.  In planning the 1989 show, an innovative and visionary group of auto dealers within the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) sought to make the event more international in scope – truly a world-class event.  They traveled to Japan and Europe to encourage automakers there to bring their new brands and new-vehicle introductions to the newly-named North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), and the automakers did just that, leading to the growth and success of the NAIAS.  Thanks to the vision and fortitude of the 1989 organizing committee, and the efforts of Detroit area auto dealers who’ve since served on the organizing committee, the NAIAS has continued to grow and has earned a top spot among auto shows around the world.

Since 1989:

  • Photo galleries for each year are linked below, or you can visit the Photo Tour to check out even more.
  • 1,359 vehicles have been introduced.
  • More than 18 million people have attended the show.
  • The number of NAIAS exhibitors has grown to 216.
  • More than 124,000 media have been credentialed to cover the NAIAS.
  • More than $90 million has been raised and provided to Detroit-area charities through the annual Charity Preview, $47 million of which has been raised in the past 10 years alone.  In fact, thanks to the generosity of those affiliated with the auto industry, the NAIAS Charity Preview is the largest single night fundraiser in the world.
  • More than 125 charities have received donations from Charity Preview; 116 of which received donations from the DADA Charitable Foundation Fund, a fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
  • For the past 25 years, the total economic impact of NAIAS on the Southeastern Michigan region is estimated at $9.7-$10.1 billion.

Thank you to the Michigan Legislature for commemorating the 25th Anniversary and declaring January 2014 as North American International Auto Show Month in the State of Michigan. 

Senate Resolution No. 109

House Resolution No. 284    

 

2013 - Photo Gallery Highlights

NAIAS 2013 was a true celebration of the automobile and a demonstration of the strength and resiliency of the auto business. Nowhere was that more clearly seen than on the show floor where manufacturers unveiled over 60 of their most spectacular new vehicles, showcasing them before a global audience of some of the world's most influential media and the all-important car-buying public. The show was a true reflection of a strong, vibrant and more confident industry. International media numbers were up, Industry Preview saw more attendees, Charity Preview raised 30 percent more than the 2012 event and total ticketed attendance was the highest since 2004. NAIAS 2013 was a two-week celebration of cars, technology and industry confidence. What a great prelude to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the NAIAS coming up next year!

 

2012 - Photo Gallery Highlights

After a spectacular nine day run, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2012 is in the books.

Bill Perkins, chairman, NAIAS, said the show lived up to its reputation of being one of the top in the world.

"From the press to the public, everyone realized that this was a very special show," said Perkins. "People want to feel good again about the industry, which is now obviously in a better place than it was a few years ago. As a result, this year's show was a 'must-see' event, as the attendance numbers indicate," he said. "Everything that could go right…did."

Jim Seavitt, NAIAS 2012 vice chairman (and incoming chairman of NAIAS 2013) said the overwhelming feeling of automaker confidence, which was demonstrated in the more than 40 product unveilings and in the new exhibits, helped to create a positive environment at the auto show.

"NAIAS is positioned along with shows in Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris, Beijing and Tokyo because of the number of journalists who attend, and the number of worldwide product unveilings we host," said Seavitt. "We are traditionally very strong in both categories, which is why NAIAS remains an important part of the automakers' global product launch strategies."

 

2011 - Photo Gallery Highlights

"The NAIAS 2011 validated all promises made by exhibitors in 2009 and 2010 as the product pipeline is full and vibrant," said NAIAS 2011 Chairman, Barron Meade. "The ability to rise up from the difficult economic times of the recent past in glowing fashion indicates a positive ripple effect for our local, national and global economies. NAIAS is again proud to kick off a new year by providing a global stage for so many to be spotlighted."

Meade also noted the economic impact for the region saw another boost as it is estimated between $350 and $375 million was funneled into the local economy from visitors to NAIAS in the form of hotels, transportation, catering and entertainment, a more than $25 million improvement over the NAIAS 2010.

This year saw the return of Porsche and the announcement that Nissan will be returning in 2012. In addition, while the press conference schedule provided an unprecedented amount of news and coverage, NAIAS leadership is listening to its customers: the manufacturers, the auto suppliers, and the media, and is already planning a two-day 2012 press conference schedule which will best accommodate anticipated news as well as the likelihood of more manufacturer representation.

Bill Perkins, NAIAS 2012 Chairman, indicated the recent show has set a strong foundation for the next, and that exciting updates about the 2012 show will be provided throughout the coming year.

"What sets NAIAS apart and keeps it a global draw from so many influential audiences is its commitment to not rest on its laurels, but to keep building, striving and adapting," Perkins said. "The work and updates we are hearing from Cobo Center management as to what is planned for Cobo Center for the 2012 show will have people awed and amazed. This was an outstanding year, but I already can't wait for what is around the corner for NAIAS 2012."

 

2010 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The NAIAS 2010 took on the global economic challenges to do what Detroiters have always done: endure, excel and exceed expectation. The NAIAS committee was proud to once again host this world-class event for thousands of top media and industry executives and enthusiasts who are attracted by newsworthy and exciting production and concept vehicle debuts.

NAIAS 2010 showcased nearly 40 total vehicle unveilings before nearly 5,000 international media from more than 60 countries, along with a host of government officials such as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. In addition, more than $2 million was raised for children's charities at the annual black-tie Charity Preview. The gala featured entertainment by Detroit's own band, The Romantics, and four impromptu flash dance performances, as an added surprise. The NAIAS 2010 also welcomed nearly 715,000 attendees, up from 650,000 estimated attendees at the 2009 show.

New features like Electric Avenue, presented by The Dow Chemical Company, dovetailed perfectly with the return of an expanded Michigan Economic Development Corporation EcoXperience to underscore the automotive industry's commitment to alternative fuel solutions.

 

2009 - Photo Gallery Highlights

Almost 7,000 guests attended the 2009 Charity Preview, raising over $2.6 million for Detroit-area childrens' charities. Attendees enjoyed a sneak peak at the world-class NAIAS and a special performance by the Doobie Brothers.

The future of electric vehicles was displayed at the EcoXperience, sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) allowing attendees to ride in the latest hybrid and electric vehicles on a track covering 70,000 square feet of floor space at Cobo Center. Spotlighting the global automotive industry's progress in making alternative propulsion technology a reality, the EcoXperience displayed ride production and concept vehicles alike featuring state-of-the-art hybrid and electric technology.

 

2008 - Photo Gallery Highlights

NAIAS 2008 welcomed more than 700,000 attendees, over 6,000 international media from 63 countries along with a host of celebrities, and drew more than 37,000 industry insiders from 2,000 companies.

Every year, the NAIAS welcomes more events, celebrity appearances and other attractions.  The NAIAS is positioned well to draw top media, industry executives and production/concept vehicle debuts.  In 2008, 44 worldwide production and concept vehicles were unveiled as well as 14 North American productions and concepts.

According to Edmunds.com, the NAIAS website (naias.com) was ranked #7 by Yahoo! as one of the most visited websites and was featured as the lead story of the day.

'The Gallery' showcase, an NAIAS original and in its inaugural year, was a tremendous success as auto collectors from all over the globe converged on Cobo Center for a sneak-peak of the elite brands of the NAIAS including Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Maybach.

Charity Preview was a sold-out affair with 15,000 guests, raising $6 million for 12 children's charities.  The Barenaked Ladies performance, in Cobo Arena after the Charity Preview gala, was an incredible success.

The Cobo Center expansion is a complex issue for the region.  Show management remains confident that regional cooperation can happen, and Cobo Center can be expanded and improved.

Entering its 20th year as an international event, the North American International Auto Show is ranked among the most prestigious auto shows in the world and is one of the largest media events in North America.  The NAIAS is the only auto show in the United States to earn an annual distinguished sanction of the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles, the Paris-based alliance of automotive trade associations and manufacturers from around the world.  Don't Miss It for the World!

 

2007 - Photo Gallery Highlights

NAIAS 2007 celebrated the centennial of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association's (DADA) successful association with the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).  Since its inception in 1907, the show has grown from a regional event featuring 17 exhibitors to an internationally-sanctioned show with over 90 exhibitors that has added more than $500 million to the metro Detroit region last year alone.  Visit the 2007 photo gallery to see some of the vehicles unveiled at NAIAS 2007.

Changfeng Motor was the first Chinese auto manufacturer to exhibit from Preview Week through Public Show.

Another first... At a special ceremony, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a limited-edition cachet envelope and postmark that celebrates the 100th anniversary.  The postmark and envelope were available during the NAIAS at a temporary post office set up at Cobo Center by the United States Postal Service.

At the 2007 show the NAIAS debuted an enhanced digital newsroom providing extended coverage of the show to assist journalists from both traditional and internet media outlets.  The digital newsroom featured daily highlights and recaps of the show, including NAIAS press releases integrated with broadcast quality, downloadable video as well as high resolution photography.

NAIAS marked the first year the MSN Autos web page was translated into six languages and published in 10 MSN international markets including France, Germany, UK, Italy and Spain reaching millions of media and car enthusiasts worldwide.

For the third straight year, NBC Sports featured its one-of-a kind, two-hour broadcast on the incredible designs and technology unveiled at the NAIAS 2007.

NAIAS - A Celebration of the Industry:
Celebrating its 20th year as an international show, the NAIAS is one of the longest running auto shows in the country.  We are proud of the stature and recognition the show has received and it is truly an honor to be ranked among the premier international auto shows of the world - Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris and Tokyo.

The NAIAS continues to be one of the world's top international auto shows, and its increased global presence is starting to draw show goers from outside the Detroit region.  We look forward to continuing to make NAIAS a fun destination for families and a great venue for manufacturers to launch world-class vehicles.

 

2006 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The NAIAS 2006 saw the introduction of 70 new vehicles including Geely, the first Chinese manufacturer to ever display in the United States. The NAIAS is a showcase for the world's vehicle introductions and has ushered in the debut of 994 total vehicles introductions since 1989.

The NAIAS 2006 attracted 6,647 media from 62 countries on six continents, over 30% of whom were represented by the international press.  In contrast, 850 journalists, 60 of whom were international, attended the 1989 NAIAS.

The event has grown steadily and broadened its reach beyond the automotive supplier industry.  Its universal appeal is that it offers automotive suppliers and others who support the industry the exclusive opportunity to preview the show before it opens to the public.   

While the spotlight at the NAIAS is on the vehicles on display, another major component of the show for more than 20 years has been the Charity Preview.

This black tie gala, held on the evening before the show officially opens to the public, has become one of the largest single-night fundraisers in the world.  NAIAS has raised more than $65 million for children's charities since the inception of the Charity Preview in 1976.

In 2006 the Specialty Vehicle Showcase continued to grow adding a new dimension to the show.  The 20,000-square foot specialty display included a select group of OEMs showcasing the latest in niche vehicles and the hot, new trend in vehicle customization and personalization.

 

2005 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The NAIAS 2005 saw the introduction of 68 new vehicles.  The NAIAS is a showcase for the world's vehicle introductions and has ushered in the debut of 924 total vehicles introductions since 1989.

NBC produced a 2 hour special live from the show floor on the closing day of the show which attracted 8.8 million viewers.

NAIAS 2005 final attendance was 773,422 during public show.

 

2004 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The 2004 show saw a record 79 new vehicle introductions, 55 of which were worldwide unveilings.

NAIAS 2004 final attendance was 808,833 for public show.

 

2003 - Photo Gallery Highlights

NAIAS 2003 final attendance (810,699) eclipsed the previous show’s high of 802,301, set in 2000.

In addition to Public Days and Charity Preview attendees, the show attracted nearly 28,000 people from 1,800 companies to Industry Preview Days and more than 6,600 journalists to Press Preview Days.  Nearly 40 percent of media attendees were from outside the United States.

 

2002 - Photo Gallery Highlights

In 2002, more than 6 million unique visitors visited for NAIAS CarPoint web site, creating unprecedented publicity for NAIAS worldwide.

The Food Court was relocated from Michigan Hall to Cobo Arena to offer more space to manufacturers.

 

2001 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The Northwest World Club was provided a presence in the Cobo concourse, offering amenities to media and corporate executives attending NAIAS.

 

2000 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The General Motors Corporation exhibit integrated corporate identity under the G.M. umbrella.

A hotel room reservation program was established to assist NAIAS visitors.

A shuttle service was established, providing transportation to visitors between designated hotels in the metropolitan area and Cobo Center, as well as an intra-hotel shuttle service between downtown hotels and Cobo Center.

 

1999 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The Ford exhibit integrated corporate identity under the Ford umbrella.

Kiosk locations were located on the show floor during Press Days and the public show to gather information for use by show management and for publicity purposes.

 

1998 - Photo Gallery Highlights

Volkswagen was located on the main show floor and Michigan Hall.  The escalator access to Michigan Hall became part of the Volkswagen display.

 

1997 - Photo Gallery Highlights

MSN CarPoint, Microsoft Corporation’s automotive website, began serving as the official web site for NAIAS, providing up-to-the minute coverage of the show’s press conferences and automobile industry events.

A contract was negotiated with a WXYZ-TV/Channel 7, nationally syndicated, local television station (the official broadcast station for NAIAS).  This partnership increased exposure overall, and specifically on nationally televised programs.

The Van Show was eliminated in Michigan Hall, an extension to the main show floor, in order to offer more redesigned and enhanced exhibit space for manufacturers.  Michigan Hall was opened during Press Week to provide media exposure to new exhibitors.

 

1996 - Photo Gallery Highlights

TIME Magazine, a major publication in North America, established a Time Quality Dealer Award (TMQDA) program throughout the United States, providing NAIAS with significant exposure in their publication. TIME Magazine provided the opportunity for TMQDA recipients to attend the show and also hosted a reception for them at the Charity Preview.

 

1995 - Photo Gallery Highlights

NACTOY (North American Car and Truck of the Year) Awards debuted.  These awards are determined by an independent jury of top North American media.

A VIP hospitality reception area was established, providing access to the main show floor.

 

1994 - Photo Gallery Highlights

Multi-level sponsorships were offered to companies ranging from $25,000 to $50,000.

Crain Publications sponsored the Design Forum at NAIAS.  This endeavor was very successful toward initiating a closer relationship with designers and the design community in sharing current trends.

Multi-level sponsorships were offered to companies.

 

1993 - Photo Gallery Highlights

The official NAIAS ShowTalk newsletter began publication.

 

1992 - Photo Gallery Highlights

Chrysler made page one news when its President, Bob Lutz, “crashed” a Jeep Grand Cherokee into Cobo Center, shattering through special plate glass.

Reduced airfare rates were negotiated with Northwest Airlines for NAIAS visitors.

The syndication of a one-hour special was developed that aired nationally and began to lure nationally televised programs to cover NAIAS on-site.

The North American International Auto Show is sanctioned by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA).

 

1990 - Photo Gallery Highlights

NAIAS began offering satellite uplinks for press conferences and also established more extensive video services to extend the media reach of the show globally.

Mercedes-Benz sent several Europeans to Detroit to build an exhibit that included parquet floors.

Supplier Preview Days began.  The event offered automotive suppliers with the exclusive opportunity to preview the show before it opened to the public.  It proved to be a successful event.

 

1989 - Photo Gallery Highlights

One of the first items on the agenda was the name of the show.  In 1989, it became the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).

The first NAIAS committee, consisting of two co-chairmen, an international advisor and committee members, accepted the task to elevate the Detroit Show to the level of an international show.

The NAIAS committee observed that pressrooms at international shows were not conducive to effective media relations.  Michelin initiated discussions with NAIAS leadership and an agreement was reached.  Michelin brought in a dozen professionals from New York City to set up a media center at NAIAS, complete with telephone, video and computer facilities.  The first NAIAS press facilities measured 12,000 sq. ft. (1,100 sq. m.) and served 1,200 press attendees.  The facility has since doubled in size and media attendance has increased five-fold.

The NAIAS committee recommended annual visits to the international shows, as well as to import manufacturers in California and New Jersey.

Other key industry events began to lend their support to the NAIAS.  Automotive News World Congress rescheduled their event to coincide with NAIAS.  The Society of Automotive Analysts began holding an "Outlook Conference" during press days at NAIAS.

The Automotive Press Association/Detroit Auto Dealers Association established a reception toasting international media on Monday night of Press Days.

850 journalists, 60 of whom were international, attended the NAIAS 1989.

 

1988 

Ongoing discussions with exhibitors resulted in the creation of many versions of the floor plan as the auto show committee (comprised of new car dealer members of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association) worked toward accommodating each exhibitor’s needs while, at the same time, creating a final floor plan that provided a level, global playing field with equitable representation for every exhibitor.

At the 1988 Frankfurt show, a dealer team met with a dozen high-ranking BMW representatives. The German executives sought precise details of the NAIAS plans and then promised a spectacular Detroit presence.

Manufacturers’ square footage allotments and space allocations are based on a number of considerations, including sales in the U.S. marketplace, new products and introductions committed to Auto Show (currently and historically).

 

1987 - 1988

When Detroit Auto Show management learned that Cobo Hall was in the process of a major expansion to double its size, they decided to expand the show, a decision that received virtually unanimous support from dealer members of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association.

What began as a program to compete with the top domestic offerings -- Chicago, Los Angeles and New York – emerged as a full-fledged international event capable of matching and even surpassing any auto event on the globe.

Several dealer teams were formed to visit the global giants of the auto show world – Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris and Tokyo.  A video promoting the Detroit show as an international event was prepared and presented as a promotional tool at all meetings with the manufacturers.  The first stop was General Motors Corporation and a meeting with Chairman Roger Smith and President Robert Stempel.  They were very supportive.  The dealer teams also went to Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation, enlisting their support.

A critical key for international recognition was the attendance of foreign media, as well as a horde of domestic auto and business writers.  Toyota’s new Lexus was six months away from public introduction in late 1988.  A Detroit debut guaranteed that the Japanese media would arrive en masse.  Toyota and Lexus Division welcomed the idea and the spotlight on their products in the hometown headquarters of the domestic industry.  Nissan was also about to introduce its own luxury line, Infiniti.  Nissan quickly gave their blessing to a Detroit unveiling.  Commitments were also received from Hyundai, American Isuzu, American Honda & Acura Division, and Mitsubishi.

Meetings were held with the city of Detroit’s administration to discuss requirements for enhancing the city’s monorail system and parking accommodations during the public show.

 

1965

The Detroit Auto Show moved to its present location at Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center in downtown Detroit.

 

1957

The first year international auto manufacturers displayed their vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show, Domestic models from the Big Three now shared floor space with Volvo, German Isetta, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Porsche.

 

1941 - 1953

With the outbreak of World War II, the United States government outlawed all sales or delivery of new passenger cars and trucks.  Consequently, there were no DADA auto shows from 1941 - 1953.

 

1907

The first Detroit Area Dealer Association (DADA)-managed Detroit Auto Show was held in December 1907, at Riverview Park after the formation of the DADA in the same year. Since then, the show has grown from a regional event with 17 exhibitors to a world-class showcase featuring more than 60 exhibitors.

As the years passed, the show became increasingly popular as the demand and interest for automobiles grew.  The show grew and moved to several new locations, including the Light Guard Armory on Eight Mile, the Wayne Gardens Pavilion and the Michigan State Fairgrounds.