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AutoMatters & More: Auto shows have changed — sadly not for the better

2017 LA Auto Show
2017 LA Auto Show
(Jan Wagner)

In the past couple of weeks, I have covered the SEMA Show in Las Vegas (including the awesome parade of show vehicles in the “SEMA Cruise” and the exciting post-show public outdoor party called “SEMA Ignited”), the thrilling “Aviation Nation” air show at Nellis Air Force Base (featuring the USAF Thunderbirds) — also in Las Vegas, and the pavement-pounding NHRA drag racing Finals in Pomona, California. However, rather than share any of that with you this week, instead I have regrettable news to share with you about the current, post-COVID state of auto shows.

Until this morning I had longstanding plans to hit the road yet again tomorrow and drive from my home in San Diego to Los Angeles to cover yet another major event: “AutoMobility LA 2022”: the official press day for the 2022 LA Auto Show. I have been covering the LA Auto Show continuously for about two decades — until recently. Thanks to COVID, the press day for the 2021 LA Auto Show was a significantly scaled-back event — so much so that I decided not to incur the time and expense of traveling from my home base in San Diego to Los Angeles to cover it.

I hopefully anticipated that, by 2022, at least one press day similar in stature to those of years past, would be well on its way to returning, in advance of the LA Auto Show. However, as the date of the auto show drew ever closer, I began to have serious doubts about that.

: Jeep press conference at 2018 LA Auto Show
: Jeep press conference at 2018 LA Auto Show
(Jan Wagner)

According to a very recent schedule for AutoMobility LA 2022, most of the major auto manufacturers will not be conducting press conferences at AutoMobility LA. The few exceptions are (in chronological order): Subaru, Hyundai, Fiat, Genesis and Kia. That’s it. I’ll leave it to you to list who will NOT be presenting. The rest of the day will be allocated to test rides, notifications of awards, discussions about technological innovations, networking and more — including an announcement about the Indy Autonomous Challenge, which I will be covering in January during CES (the Consumer Electronics Show).

Speaking of CES, for several years that has increasingly become where the world’s major automakers have presented their most technologically advanced vehicles. I look forward to seeing and sharing that information with you in 2023.

Press covering a 2017 LA Auto Show press conference
Press covering a 2017 LA Auto Show press conference
(Jan Wagner)

You may wonder why it matters that I and many other independent journalists will no longer be invited to cover auto show press conferences put on by most of the world’s major automakers? Before COVID, auto manufacturers competed with each other, at great expense, to creatively share exciting global and domestic reveals of their latest vehicles with the world’s press. In turn, we shared that exciting news about the auto industry with you, in publications large and small. I have no doubt that prompted some of you to visit your local car dealers and auto shows to check out those and other new vehicles for yourself, and perhaps buy them.

I bought my most recent vehicle (a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE Premium) as a direct result of seeing a prototype of it previewed in a press conference at Automobility LA 2019. I shared that vehicle introduction with you in AutoMatters & More 618, titled “2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime May Be the Best All-Around SUV Ever!” Here is a link to that column on my “AutoMatters & More” website:

https://automatters.net/2021-toyota-rav4-prime-may-be-the-best-all-around-suv-ever/

Sadly, this year I will be writing no such columns about the LA Auto Show.

Star Wars-themed press conference with pyrotechnics at 2016 LA Auto Show
Star Wars-themed press conference with pyrotechnics at 2016 LA Auto Show
(Jan Wagner)

I think that this shift in publicity lanes is very short-sighted of the majority of the large automakers, since the legions of us smaller — often freelance — journalists have shared the auto industry’s news and built excitement for their brands for decades, with countless audiences — but that is coming to a screeching, devastating halt.

Fortunately, I also cover a huge variety of subjects in my “AutoMatters & More” weekly column (at my https://automatters.net website and in other publications), so I will still have more than enough to write about and photograph.

RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid prototype revealed to the press at 2019 LA Auto Show
RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid prototype revealed to the press at 2019 LA Auto Show
(Jan Wagner)

Despite not having your ‘tour guide,’ I still do encourage you to attend your local auto show to see what is available from the various auto manufacturers.

To see the most photos and the latest text, and to explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, visit AutoMatters & More at AutoMatters.net. On the Home Page, search by title or topic, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes.

Copyright © 2022 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #768


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