1. International Driver's License
  2.  / 
  3. Blog
  4.  / 
  5. New York and Detroit Motor Shows
New York and Detroit Motor Shows

New York and Detroit Motor Shows

International automobile and technology exhibitions held in the United States of America have a distinctive feature — first, there are only two of them. The very first motor show of the year was held until 2019 in January, in Detroit (the state of Michigan), and in spring, during Easter week, the show is based in New York. Both motor shows play a significant role and attract lots of potential buyers, participants and visitors. Some of them announce their own automotive products, while others evaluate them and make their own choices. In this article, we are going to introduce the reader to each automobile exhibition and tell why they are worth visiting.

Historic milestones

North American International Motor Show (or NAIAS), formerly the Detroit Motor Show, was held for the first time in 1899 at the suggestion of William Metzger, a businessman who demonstrated outstanding leadership. He announced the “auto parade”, which introduced the new products of American automobile industry to the public. This made the Detroit Motor Show only a regional event, but eight years later, in December 1907, the second motor show was held at Beller’s Beer Garden (at Riverside Park), where it was held annually. This time it attracted 17 participants. In its first years the show announced only domestic exhibits. Over the years, the number of participants and exhibits increased, and the motor show moved throughout the city. Due to the outbreak of World War II, the sale and delivery of new passenger cars and trucks was banned by the US government. Therefore, from 1941 to 1953, Detroit has not arranged any more motor shows. 

In 1957, for the first time in its history foreign automakers took part in the Detroit Motor Show. The “big three” of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors shared space on the demonstration sites with Volvo, Isetta, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

In 1965, the exhibition moved to its current location at the Kobo exhibition center in Downtown Detroit.

In 1987, the organizers of the Detroit Motor Show — the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) visited European and Japanese automakers with an appeal to hold a number of premieres of new models at the North American event, to give it an international status. They supported the initiative, which allowed importers to present models first designed for the American market earlier than in Europe. Therefore, in 1989, the Detroit Motor Show was renamed the North American International. The same year new Japanese brands Lexus and Infiniti debuted, oriented exclusively towards the North American market. The Dodge Viper concept car was announced. The car show was attended by 850 journalists, 60 of whom represented foreign press.

In New York, the automobile exhibition was held for the first time in 1900 at the Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. There were definitely no foreign companies at that time since the car market has only started to evolve. William Metzger, already known for his impact in Detroit also helped in organizing the New York Motor Show.

New York International Motor Show today

Since 1907 at the end of March — beginning of April the annual motor show has been held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York (Jacob Javits Expo center). This spring exhibition in New York is not considered to be the largest and most significant, but it is worth mentioning. After all, for ten days every year, New York City becomes the automobile capital of the United States. At the New York Motor Show, you can see American and world premieres: cars and trucks, concept cars, tuning projects, motorcycles, supercars. The experts also choose the best car of the year. To participate in the competition, the nominees must be sold in at least five countries.

The show is currently hosted at the Jacob Javits Convention and Expo Center. The huge area of this center accommodates pavilions for new, updated or concept models from the world car manufacturers. Many prominent guests (celebrities, shareholders and politicians) attend the show. This is the place where associated media men and members of the Greater New York Auto Dealers Association meet. Unlike the Detroit Motor Show, which focuses on the domestic American car market, the today’s New York Show has an international focus and is much global. The New York International Motor Show ranks third among all popular motor shows.

Modern North American International Motor Show

Two days prior to the official opening, the Detroit Motor Show opens its doors to the press, and the day before the opening holds a charity preview — the money raised on this day is transferred to charitable foundations. The car dealership itself brings about half a billion US dollars to the budget of Detroit, which is going through difficult times. This is a major event for American manufacturers, which plays a major role for global automakers. After all, the latter consider us motorists a reference consumer.

In 2019, the exhibition was last held in January. It was officially moved to summer. The Detroit Motor Show will be a part of the spring motor show in New York, and companies will be able to save money by not paying overtime to workers during the holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year), which will contribute to savings of 30-40%. In addition, the preparation time for the show will be reduced from eight to three weeks. Holding a motor show in June will open up additional opportunities for the organizers to make it more lively and vibrant, imitating the successful concept of Goodwood. There are plans to open additional sites in the center of Detroit and other important places, open tracks for off-road vehicles, racing segments for sports cars, an open-air entertainment area, etc. Major events will take place at nearby Hart Plaza and Detroit RiverWalk, with additional events planned at Campus Martius, Woodward Avenue, Grand Circus Park, and Belle Isle. In fact, the city and the show’s organizers want June to be a “month-long automobile festival” starting with the Detroit Grand Prix, followed by the North American international automobile show. A Ford fireworks display will complete the event. The statement of Rod Alberts, executive director of the North American International Auto Show reads: “Detroit will remain a global stage, one of the most significant and iconic motor shows in the world, which will have an unprecedented international audience of media and key industry players… June provides us with new opportunities that are simply unthinkable in January.”

Epidemic and the Motor Show: who will win?

The 2020 Detroit International Motor Show has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency of the United States has decided to use the area of the TCF Center exhibition center to organize a temporary field hospital for receiving patients infected with the coronavirus. TCF Center will be occupied for at least six months, which together with the ban on mass events in the United States makes it impossible to hold the North American International Auto Show.

The motor show is now expected to take place on June 11, 2021.

Also, due to the coronavirus pandemic, for the first time in 2020, it was decided not to hold the New York International Auto Show in early April (during Easter week), but to postpone it to the end of August. “We have taken this extraordinary step to protect the participants, organizers and visitors from the coronavirus,” said the President of the Automobile Dealers Association of New York Mark Scheinberg. August is also in question since covid incidence rate in the United States is growing. Nevertheless, automakers are preparing for the show. In 2019, about a million visitors attended the show and 2020 may be not less popular. The last time the New York International Auto Show was cancelled during World War II. 

Thus, the Detroit and New York Motor Shows are a unique opportunity for everyone who is visiting the Westen world and is eager to get acquainted with the most innovative technological achievements of the world’s automotive industry. And for those who do not yet have an international driver’s license, we invite you to apply for it with minimal effort and time on our website.

Please type your email in the field below and click "Subscribe"
Subscribe and get full instructions about the obtaining and using of International Driving License, as well as advice for drivers abroad