Here Is What’s Happening At The 2018 North American International Auto Show

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The North American International Auto Show, held in Detroit, Michigan, is the most significant auto show in the world. Last year at the Cobo Center, there were 50 OEMs in the house, 42 press conferences, and over 70 vehicle introductions. 5,000 journalists and other media professionals packed the halls for Press Preview, with nearly 13,000 attending the Charity Preview event. The economic impact of NAIAS on metro Detroit, according to Loomis Sayles & Company, is an estimated $450 million.

Here is what to expect at NAIAS, now in its 30th year.

Big Reveals

Casual car enthusiasts and career automotive professionals can appreciate the sea of iron that decorates the Cobo Center every January. Press Preview (January 15th and 16th) is where a lot of the action happens with regard to vehicle reveals.

“From global automakers to tech giants, mobility startups to suppliers and even the head of U.S. Transportation, NAIAS Press Preview will feature industry-shaping announcements from the entire automotive ecosystem,” explained Ryan LaFontaine, 2018 NAIAS Chairman.

Expect to see these automakers debuting new models. All times are Eastern.


The third-generation Acura RDX Prototype will make its world debut on January 15th at 11:05 a.m. The reveal will showcase a new direction for Acura; this RDX Prototype is the first in a new generation of products, according to the automaker. The RDX will ride on an Acura-exclusive platform centered on two design mantras, Precision Concept and Precision Cockpit. The first is about sleek styling and strong body lines; the latter is concerned with making the interior functional and clean.

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Acura RDX teaser shot. Photo: Acura.


The X2 and i8 Coupe will make their world debuts on Monday, January 15th at 9:35 a.m. The X2 is said to have “fast-moving body language, low-slung proportions, and a robust construction.” A 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic motivate the X2, expected to arrive in dealerships this spring. BMW will also have an array of electrified vehicles on display.    


The Q Inspiration Concept will take center stage on Monday, January 15th at 12:35 p.m. Karim Habib, Infiniti’s Executive Design Director, says they pushed the traditional sedan architecture to the next level.

“The Q Inspiration offers an alternative form; something more flowing in appearance and muscular in stance, with an unusually long and balanced cabin,” he explained. “Experimenting with new proportions in an established segment with the arrival of smarter, compact powertrains, the Q Inspiration features a shorter hood and elongated body, with all the benefits to interior well-being, comfort, and space that this layout entails.”

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Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept. Photo: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.


The 2019 Jeep Cherokee will see its world debut on Tuesday, January 16th. Details are slim right now, but Jeep says the new Cherokee will have a more premium design and more fuel-efficient powertrains. Jeep starts their press event at 8 a.m. on the 16th, with breakfast for credentialed media.


Toyota will premiere the all-new 2019 Avalon on Monday, January 15th at 1:05 p.m. No additional details were given and the teaser photo only showed a glimpse of the headlights.


There are even fewer details here, just that VW will debut the 2019 Jetta. They did release these cool sketches, however. VW’s press conference is set for Monday, January 15th at 10:05 a.m.

Big Events

In addition to the vehicle reveals, NAIAS has plenty of opportunities for further education, networking, and just plain fun. Here are some of the other happenings.

The Gallery – January 13th

Fine food, fine art, and fine automobiles. Nothing better on a cold January evening in Detroit. The Gallery, now in its 12th year, is the official kick-off for NAIAS, held in the Cobo Center’s atrium overlooking the water. Guests will experience a multi-million dollar collection of the most acclaimed automobiles in the world, including the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Rolls Royce.

The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital will be the beneficiary of The Gallery’s silent auction that includes an array of luxury experiences. Proceeds support patient care and research. Tickets are $250 per person.

Charity Preview – January 19th

Another night of fine dining, good causes, and enjoyment, Charity Preview is one of the most exclusive events in the United States. Since 1976, Charity Preview has raised more than $111 million for children’s charities in southeastern Michigan, $41 million of which was raised in the last 10 years. Tickets are $400 per person, $390 of which is tax deductible.

Fond memories for us include seeing The Steve Miller Band perform at the event in 2015.

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The Beach Boys perform at Charity Preview, NAIAS 2017. Photo: North American International Auto Show.

Industry Preview / AutoMobili-D (January 17th and 18th)

Industry Preview places nearly 40,000 automotive professionals and analysts from over 2,200 companies under one roof. It’s a networking and professional development opportunity with the individuals behind many of today’s most innovative technologies and products. Complementing Industry Preview is AutoMobili-D, a gathering of the latest mobility-focused platforms from the world’s automakers, suppliers, and startups. AutoMobili-D examines the connected car, autonomous driving, and how smart cites play a role in our future.

Feature panels and presentations from industry experts make the $110 ticket cost well worth it. Speakers this year include Elaine Chao, United States Secretary of Transportation, and Ray Tanguay, Automotive Advisor to the Governments of Ontario and Canada.

Public Show

NAIAS runs January 20th through the 28th at the Cobo Center, One Washington Boulevard, downtown Detroit. Ticket information for the public show and the above events can be found here; a list of daily activities can be found here; for anything else, the show’s official site is pretty easy to navigate. This year at NAIAS, a photo contest is being held with the top prize being Bose SoundSport wireless headphones. If you take any cool photos, share them with us on our Twitter page.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Photos & Sources: North American International Auto Show, Acura, BMW of North America, LLC, Infiniti Motor Company Ltd, FCA US LLC, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., Volkswagen of America, Inc.