New York Auto Show postponed due to coronavirus concerns

For the first time since World War II, the New York Auto Show is being postponed, and will now begin in late August, event coordinators said — this time due to growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. The show had been scheduled for April 10 – 19. The new dates are August 28 – September 6, 2020; press days are August 26 and 27.

“We are taking this extraordinary step to help protect our attendees, exhibitors, and all participants from the coronavirus,” said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, the organization that owns and operates the New York Auto Show.

“For 120 years, ‘the show must go on’ has been heavily embedded in our DNA, and while the decision to move the show dates didn’t come easy, our top priority remains with the health and well-being of all those involved in this historic event. We have already been in communication with many of our exhibitors and partners and are confident that the new dates for the 2020 Show will make for another successful event,” Schienberg added.

The show is the latest high profile event to be delayed or canceled outright since the sweep of the coronavirus has caused “the rhythms of daily life to stutter,” as the New York Times recently wrote. The gaming show E3 reportedly is being canceled, and the Coachella music conference is being delayed until mid-October. (Purchasers will be notified by Friday, March 13 on how to obtain a refund if they are unable to attend, show organizers said.)

Car shows are a uniquely antiquated beast, however, and feel more and more outdated as time goes on. In 2018, the Detroit Auto Show — a crucial one, given its location — caved in to the growing cars coverage at CES, and declared it would move to June in 2020. For years, car journalists and fans have braved Detroit winters to see the latest and greatest vehicles from the world’s biggest car companies — and have complained bitterly about the January cold the whole time. This year the show is ostensibly set for the week of June 8, giving them a whole new season to complain about.

But will the show take place at all?

The Geneva Auto Show was canceled last week; postponing the event wasn’t an option, because there is far too much planning involved, explained Maurice Turrettini, the show’s president. Car companies started to lose out financially in these once-glittering events over the 2010s because they’re horrifically expensive (Car & Driver pegs the cost of participating in a show like Geneva in the vicinity of $10 million) and time-consuming. Shows also pit rivals against each other in a bitter competition for the media’s limited attention. Perhaps it’s time for car shows to go completely virtual?

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