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InvestmentsAre auto shows dead after pandemic? LA shows some life By Reuters

Are auto shows dead after pandemic? LA shows some life By Reuters


¬© Reuters. Attendees view VinFast’s E35 SUV on the 2021 LA Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November, 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Hyunjoo Jin

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) -What a distinction two years make. The 2019 Los Angeles auto present featured a parade of car debuts, a flurry of press conferences and different occasions within the opening two days, together with a whole lot of hundreds of individuals desperate to see new automobiles.

Fast ahead to 2021. The Los Angeles Auto Show, the primary main U.S. auto present because the begin of the pandemic, kicked off on Wednesday with a single day of press occasions, with some automakers even skipping the present.

The present illustrates how the pandemic has accelerated automakers’ shift towards the net world, as customers purchase extra automobiles on the web, although many nonetheless favor in-person visits.

The LA Auto Show opened to the general public on Friday for 10 days. A smaller crowd waited for the doorways of an exhibition corridor to open, and guests have been unfold out at conference halls.

“I would really like to see it with my own eyes instead of seeing it on the iPad all the time,” mentioned Peter Borch, who flew from Denmark to see Fisker’s electrical sport utility automobile Ocean.

“The size is bigger than on the photo,” Borch, 52, mentioned, saying he spent all of his pension to purchase an Ocean, which is able to begin deliveries late subsequent yr.

Dustin Haug, 47, a development supervisor in Los Angeles, mentioned, “It is nothing like seeing an actual car in person, touching, feeling.”

David Fortin, head of client advertising and marketing at Los Angeles Auto Show, advised Reuters that though on-line reservations lag 2019 ranges, they’re “strong enough that we believe we’re going to have a great year.”

Honda and BMW each skipped the present in favor of separate, earlier occasions. Honda confirmed off a reincarnation of its iconic Integra prototype sedan at a livestreamed occasion in Los Angeles a couple of week earlier.

“That was an event that was exclusively ours. We find that we don’t have to compete like you do on the press days of an auto show to get the attention,” Honda government vp Dave Gardner advised Reuters on a Zoom interview.

Korean automaker Kia expressed an identical view.

“The pandemic has taught us that we can work differently. … There will be auto shows still in the future, but there’ll be also different types of presentations,” Karim Habib, head of Kia Design Center, advised Reuters on the present.

Kia and affiliate Hyundai Motor (KS:) have been among the many few automakers that debuted electrical SUV ideas on the present and flew in executives, together with chief executives, from their Seoul headquarters to Los Angeles.

“Auto shows used to be very, very popular for automakers to make a big media splash. That has changed with social media and with other forms of access to the media by consumers,” Brett Smith, expertise director at Center for Automotive Research, mentioned. “I think the pandemic was maybe the last straw in this.”

Smaller corporations see a optimistic facet to the modifications.

“It gives more attention to us,” Henrik Fisker, CEO of electrical automobile startup Fisker, advised Reuters.

He mentioned his Ocean SUV is a “sexy sports car” finest seen in particular person. “I know I’m zoomed out. I don’t think I enjoy any more sitting just looking at computers and pictures. I want to see the real stuff,” Fisker mentioned.

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