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COVID-19 Pushes Detroit Auto Show to Change Date, Offer Outdoor Alternative With Motor Bella


This article originally appeared on AutoVision News. It has been republished with permission.


Organizers of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), known as the Detroit Auto Show, have scrapped it for this year. Instead, organizers announced a “bridge to the future” auto-centric event, the Motor Bella, scheduled for September 21st through the 26th at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan. The Motor Bella was originally scheduled to be part of this year’s NAIAS.

COVID-19 Changes NAIAS Schedule

Organizers planned to host this year’s NAIAS event as normal during the summer after canceling the 2020 show due to Detroit’s TCF Center serving as a field hospital for COVID-19 relief. However, with the pandemic’s outcome still uncertain, organizers replaced the NAIAS with Motor Bella and pushed the date to September.

“While auto shows remain an important platform to promote new mobility innovations and to help people make major vehicle purchase decisions, the traditional auto show model is changing,” NAIAS Director Rod Alberts said. “We cannot ignore the major disruptions caused by the pandemic and the impact it has had on budgets. As such, we will be providing an amazing experience to the media, the auto industry, and the public in a cost-effective way.”

Motor Bella to Showcase New Mobility

Attendees at this year’s all-outdoor event can watch technology and vehicle demonstrations on 1.5-miles of hot track and explore 1.6 million square feet of dynamic vehicle and technology display space. Planners intend to include special terrain to showcase off-roading capabilities and multi-sensory events that offer “sights, sounds, and even the smell of all that the new world of mobility has to offer,” according to Alberts.

“The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business,” he said. “This new event captures that creative spirit. It will provide new mobility experiences and increasingly innovative approaches to tapping into the industry and its products.”

Event Chairman Doug North noted that the M1 Concourse was envisioned as part of the 2021 Motor Bella activities, so it was “a natural progression” to build upon it in light of the growing demand for experiential mobility shows and the need for outdoor events due to the pandemic. Motor Bella was originally conceived as a celebration of Italian and British supercars and classic vehicles and was to have debuted at the June 2020 NAIAS.

“With our new program for 2021, we will take the Motor Bella concept to the next level with multiple brands and mobilities represented, from hometown to international nameplates, autonomous vehicles to high-performance supercars and everything in between,” North explained. “It will be a mobility-filled event. One that will provide our show partners with a cost-efficient backdrop to share all of their brands, products, and technologies in a fun and festival-like atmosphere that’s completely outdoors.”

2021 Motor Bella Dates

  • Press Preview: Tuesday, Sept. 21st
  • AutoMobili-D: Tuesday, Sept. 21st through a half-day Thursday, Sept. 23rd
  • Industry Preview: Wednesday, Sept. 22nd and a half-day Thursday, Sept. 23rd
  • Public Show: Thursday, Sept. 23rd through Sunday, Sept. 26th 

A charity initiative, which will continue the NAIAS’ and Detroit Auto Dealers Association’s longstanding commitment to children and families in need, will also be part of the six-day Motor Bella.

M1 Concourse map. Motor Bella is scheduled to take place at the M1 Concourse in September.
M1 Concourse map.
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