Car Fest 2020: The Detroit Auto Show Takes Over Motor City—Literally

2020 Detroit Auto Show

Cars, music, food, test drives, city parks, fireworks and fun. Isn’t THAT what an auto show should be?

I can’t wait to visit the Detroit Auto Show next June.

Yes, next June. I said that right.

Anyone who has attended the Detroit Auto Show— media, auto company execs, auto fans and new car shoppers— knows that this show is always held in the bitter throes of winter.

The show appeals to both the executives and companies that exhibit as well as the 750,000+ consumers who attend each year.

And while it’s a welcome respite to be indoors in January with cars, virtual reality games, drive simulators, food stands and friends, there are experiences that warm weather would improve. Like, test drives. And off-road adventures. And tech demonstrations. And self-driving car demonstrations. And the roar of 700 horsepower engines firing up to delight the crowd.

The winter weather belies what Detroit has become, and what it shows off best in summer: A bustling hive of culture, outdoor parks, bike paths, markets, restaurants, food trucks, concerts and more. It’s a tourist destination, a hipster haven, a millennial work/life dream.

Further reading: See all-new Ford Explorer and more at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show

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NAIAS has big plans for the Cobo Center in June 2020. This rendering shows multiple drive experiences where you can get hands on. Photo: NAIAS Detroit

The Plans are Just Starting to Form… and Possibility Is the Inspiration

And the new Detroit is the ultimate showcase for the auto industry. Taking a cue from the South X Southwest, the Detroit Auto Show will take over downtown Detroit next spring, expanding the show and its exhibits all around town. Starting with Cobo Center, the convention center that anchors the southeast corner of downtown, the show will cascade out, with exhibits and activities in Hart Plaza (the park right outside Cobo Center), Campus Martius, Detroit Riverwalk, and extending even further, perhaps to Michigan Station, which was just purchased by Ford, Grand Circus Park, Ford Field and more. Plans are still in the works, but the city is such a luminous canvas it’s hard to imagine where the boundaries will be drawn.


Further reading: Meet Margery Dosey, the woman who changed auto shows forever.

Downtown Detroit: A Showcase for Mobility

Detroit automakers have led the industry in shifting its focus from cars to mobility. As in autonomous and semi-autonomous cars, buses and trucks, electric scooters, community bikes and ride sharing. Autonomous cars and the myriad of mobility solutions could make this show not just something fun to see, but really fun to do. “June will allow us to better showcase the automotive leadership, development and heritage of our great city,” said Doug North, president of the Detroit Automobile Dealers Association and vice chairman of the show.

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This rendering shows how NAIAS 2020 will incorporate food trucks at Campus Martius to extend the auto show into downtown Detroit. Photo: NAIAS Detroit

And, Then There’s the Food and Music

Of course, Detroit is known for its music. And in recent years Detroit’s food scene has taken a place on the international culinary stage. So it makes sense for the two to have a role in the Detroit Auto Show. From food trucks and pop-up restaurants to concert stages and live music, expect food and music to add to the festival feel of the 2020 Detroit Auto Show.

Plans are just starting to come together. Manufacturers are excited, albeit a bit nervous, for the change, pledging to be part of the new era of the Detroit Auto Show. Consumers should keep an eye on developments—watch this space for more news!— and those who are thinking of planning that first vacation to visit Detroit, June 2020 could be the ultimate, and best, time to see Motor City.

Further reading: Ford invests in Downtown Detroit, and the future of technology, with the purchase of Michigan Central Station

Magine The Best Car Show Ever: Test Drives, Autonomous Cars, Music, Food, And Yes, Cars, Taking Over America'S Hippest City: The 2020 Detroit Auto Show! #Carfest2020

Disclosure: This story is part of a paid partnership between A Girls Guide to Cars and the Detroit Auto Show to share stories about the reinvention of the show. You can follow the news and more stories by following the hashtag #ReinventNAIAS