Technology not only produces cars, but also drives the way they are revealed to the public. Many believe the traditional auto show is becoming irrelevant in an age when manufacturers can use the Internet to guarantee publicity for standalone car events, and tech or business announcements often create as much buzz as the cars themselves.
In acknowledgement of those trends, the organizers of the Los Angeles Auto Show are making some changes. The consumer-oriented public days of the show, when the floor opens for people to check out all of the new cars, will remain the same. But the press days that precede the public show will be combined with the Connected Car Expo tech conference into one entity, called AutoMobility LA.
The four-day media event will incorporate elements of auto industry and tech industry trade shows. It will feature not only carmakers, but also tech companies, designers, startups, and government officials, according to a press release announcing the shift. All of those entities will cram into the exiting convention-center space and a new 50,000-square-foot “Technology Pavilion” November 14 through 17.
AutoMobility LA will ditch the traditional auto show format, where carmakers unveil new products back-to-back during press days. Instead, the automaker press conferences will be mixed in with press conferences for tech companies and other relevant groups. That may almost make AutoMobility LA seem a bit like CES, which was shot through with automotive announcements last year, and which seemed to steal some of the traditional auto shows’ thunder. Ford CEO Mark Fields will be AutoMobility LA’s first keynote speaker.
The Los Angeles Auto Show/AutoMobility LA organizers hope the new format will foment new partnerships like the $500 million deal between General Motors and Lyft, which they claim came out of a conversation between representatives of the two companies during the Connected Car Expo.
Los Angeles is certainly a good place to try a new auto-show format. It’s the last show of the calendar year, and usually doesn’t garner as much attention as shows like Detroit or Geneva. Much of the technology organizers hope to showcase is developed by local tech companies and startups. California was once thought of as the center of American car culture, but can the launch of AutoMobility LA help it continue to set trends? We’ll find out in November.