Mercedes to Skip Detroit Auto Show as Tech Events Steal Thunder

(Bloomberg) -- The Detroit auto show will be missing a famous star next year, with Mercedes-Benz choosing to sit out the iconic event.

The top-selling luxury carmaker continuously reviews the platforms it chooses to reach customers and has decided not to participate in the Detroit show in 2019, according to an emailed statement. Bloomberg News reported last week that Daimler AG-owned brand had been mulling the decision as auto manufacturers increasingly participate in tech conferences and do major reveals at their own showcases.

The North American International Auto Show in Detroit has struggled to cope with the rise of the CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, which has become a major tech showcase for automakers. After CES organizers scheduled the event a week later than usual this year, the Detroit show media days were pushed back and overlapped with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday.

“Mercedes-Benz participation at future auto shows and trade fairs will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Detroit auto dealers held the first show in 1907, which was a regional event until organizers began efforts in the late 1980s to make it more international in scope. Initial meetings with automakers and tech companies have “hinted at some big product news earmarked for Detroit in the upcoming year,” Max Muncey, a spokesman for the show, said in an email.

Zetsche’s Participation

Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche has been a regular at the Detroit show throughout his career, including while he was running Chrysler during the two companies’ ill-fated merger.

Zetsche was a keynote speaker at CES in 2015, where he discussed autonomous-driving technology and showed the Mercedes F 015 concept vehicle, hinting at a future of rolling luxury lounges that could chauffeur passengers around without a human driver.

Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett and Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda were among the auto executives to deliver speeches this year at CES, which boasted almost 300 vehicle technology exhibitors taking up more than 280,000 square feet -- or nearly five football fields -- of show floor space.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.