When thinking about the city of Detroit, you likely think of several things: a city built on manufacturing, resilience, and of course, the automotive industry. It is no surprise that one of the world’s biggest and best auto shows annually takes place in the Motor City. The automotive industry is currently breaking sales records, and, to understand why, the North American International Auto Show showcases the vehicles that are selling at astounding rates.
Detroit has held an annual auto show for more than a century. The inaugural Detroit Auto Show was held in December of 1907 and the focus of the show was primarily regional. The show, and even the production of commercial vehicles, was put on hold when the United States’ entered World War 2. In a fireside chat, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made a “call to arm and support” the Allies in the war effort. Detroit had the infrastructure in place to manufacture the armaments needed in the war effort and became the “arsenal of democracy,” a crucial cog in the eventual triumph of the Allied forces.
The Detroit Auto Show would not reemerge until 1954. In 1964, to accommodate the astonishing growth of the event, the show made the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit its permanent home. In 1987, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association decided to expand the scope of the show and make it a truly international affair. In 1989, the Detroit Auto Show was renamed the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), officially cementing its status as a showcase of the best vehicles from around the globe.
In a crowded field of auto shows, the NAIAS continually stands out. Publications often identify the show as one of the best in the world. For the past 22 years, awards have been given during the show, including the North American Car and Truck of the Year. The awards are unique because “they are not given by a single publication, website, radio, or television station. This year they are being decided by an independent jury of 53 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.”
As auto sales have improved over the past several years, so has attendance at NAIAS. Last year the show attracted over 800,000 spectators, the best attendance in 12 years. An improving economy, better weather, and cheaper gas prices have been cited as reasons for a spike in attendance. As auto sales increase and fuel prices continue to dip, 2016 could be another record breaking year for the NAIAS. This year, more than 50 vehicles are expected to be revealed.
Just as the Academy Awards are rightfully held in Los Angeles, the North American International Auto Show takes place in a city with a distinct identity. The city of Detroit possesses a long and storied history and the automotive industry has been the backbone of the city for over a century. Starting today and running through January 24th, the Motor City will display the best the automotive industry has to offer at the North American International Auto Show.