By Jeff Gilbert
The Los Angeles Auto Show has now reached the point where, along with the North American International Auto Show here in Detroit, it’s become a “must cover” for those in the auto journalism business, and a “must show” for car companies.
It hasn’t always been that way.
I first attended the LA Auto Show in 2001, as part of a California vacation. It’s press days were squeezed in between the holidays and the show in Detroit. The plan was see the Tournament of Roses Parade, and see what the LA Auto Show was all about.
I was surprised that it wasn’t a bigger deal. After all, California is the biggest car market in the country.
It reminded me of the Detroit show, before it went international.
The LA show has grown steadily over the years, and the move from January to November, taking it out of Detroit’s shadow, gave it the boost it needed. The shows in LA and Detroit seem to have a nice synergy.
Unfortunately, the big loser has been the Chicago show, which has lost a lot of introductions over the years. It’s not as big a media show as it once was, and is now trying to focus on bloggers and those in social media.
I’ll be traveling to LA the week of November 26th. While press preview are scheduled for the 28th and 29th, the major auto companies also have events scheduled on the 27th as well.
Those first few days, the 26th and 27th, are also a good opportunity to meet with some members of the auto and analyst community out on the west coast.
This will be my 10th LA Auto Show.
Perhaps the most memorable—and not for good reasons—was the 2008 show. Car sales had just fallen through the floor. While I was in LA, the top execs of the big three were making their first appearance before Congress, looking for help.
Being in Los Angeles gave me an opportunity to talk to people who weren’t from Detroit, and I got an earful of opinions about the domestic auto industry. It was quickly followed up by similar comments from members of Congress.
Some of the people that I knew who were at the show were wandering around looking like they were in shock.
That was the year the Chrysler, to save money, didn’t put extra lights on its auto show exhibit. It became a symbol of the troubles the auto companies were having.
But the very next year, things were bouncing back. And, just two years later, GM launched its IPO on the first day of the LA Show.
And this year, all of the car companies will be in Los Angeles, as they try to get a piece of an auto sales market that seems to be coming back.