ANN ARBOR — The people over at the North American International Auto Show sent out a press release today titled “Validation of Promise.” What was the promise? That after some undeniably rocky years, Detroit would come back swinging at this year’s show, boasting vibrant new cars and all the buzz that comes with them.
Well, one measure of buzz is who shows up. And for the second year in a row, attendance at the auto show rose. Organizers report that 735,370 people turned out this month. That’s about 20,000 more than last year. It might not seem like a groundbreaking number, but for the industry it marks a welcome change in direction. NAIAS attendance peaked in 2003 with more than 810,000 visitors … a number that eroded steadily until last year’s show.
NAIAS officials estimate the auto show channeled between $350 and $375 million into metro Detroit this month. That’s a number we can’t independently tally. But as we reported on the air, that kind of spending is not just good for Detroit, it could be good for Chicago too.
The much larger (in attendance) Chicago Auto Show kicks off in two weeks. We’ll watch and see whether the buzz out of Detroit gets magnified in the exhibition halls of McCormick Place.