Are auto shows dead after pandemic? LA shows some life

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LOS ANGELES, Nov 18 (Businesshala) – What a difference two years make. The first two days at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show saw a flurry of parades, press conferences and other events featuring vehicle debuts, with hundreds of thousands of people eager to see the new cars.

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Fast forward to 2021, with Los Angeles the first major US auto show since the start of the pandemic. The Los Angeles Auto Show began Wednesday with a day of press events, and while crowds are expected, they are likely to be far less, and some automakers are even skipping the show.

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The show shows how the pandemic has turned the online world of automakers, as consumers buy more vehicles on the internet.

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Honda (7267.T) and BMW (BMWG.DE) both abandoned the show in favor of separate, earlier events. Honda showed off the reincarnation of its iconic Integra prototype sedan.

Dave Gardner, Honda’s executive vice president, told Businesshala in a Zoom interview: “It was an event that was especially ours. We find that we don’t have to compete in the press days of auto shows to get attention. “

Korean automaker Kia expressed a similar view.

“The pandemic has taught us that we can do things differently. … There will still be auto shows in the future, but there will also be different types of presentations,” said Karim Habib, head of the Kia Design Center. Display.

Kia and affiliated Hyundai Motor were among the few automakers that introduced electric SUV concepts at the show, showcased their big sport electric vehicles, and flew in executives, including chief executives, from their Seoul headquarters to Los Angeles.

Brett Smith, technology director of the Center for Automotive Research, said, “Auto shows used to be very popular for auto manufacturers to make a big media splash. This has changed with social media and other forms of media access by consumers. ” , “I think the pandemic was probably the last straw in it.”

The LA Auto Show will be open to the public for 10 days starting Friday.

“Online reservations are not as strong as 2019, but strong enough that we believe we will have a great year,” David Fortin, head of consumer marketing at the Los Angeles Auto Show, told Businesshala. “There’s still no way, I guess, to capture a moment like that outside an auto show.”

Small companies see the positive side of changes.

“I don’t mind if someone doesn’t come here. It gives us more attention,” Henrik Fisker, CEO of electric vehicle startup Fisker, told Businesshala.

He said his Ocean SUV is a “sexy sports car” best viewed in person. “I know I’m zooming out. I don’t think I enjoy the computer and looking at pictures any more. I want to see the real stuff,” Fisker said.

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Reporting by Hyunju Jin; Editing by Peter Henderson and Leslie Adler

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