1907: The rich history began with the first DADA-managed Detroit Auto Show held in December 1907, at Riverview Park after the formation of the DADA in the same year. Since then, the show has grown from a regional event with 17 exhibitors to a world-class showcase featuring more than 60 exhibitors.
As the years passed, the show became increasingly popular as the demand and interest for automobiles grew. The show grew and moved to several new locations, including the Light Guard Armory on Eight Mile, the Wayne Gardens Pavilion and the Michigan State Fairgrounds, to name a few.
1941 - 1952: With the outbreak of World War II, the United States government outlawed all sales or delivery of new passenger cars and trucks. Consiquently, there was no DADA auto shows from 1941 - 1953.
1957: The first time auto manufacturers displayed their vehicles at the Detroit Auto Show was in 1957. Domestic models from the Big Three now shared floor space with Volvo, German Isetta, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Porsche.
1965: The Detroit Auto Show moved to its present location at Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center in downtown Detroit.
1987 - 1988: When Detroit Auto Show management learned that Cobo Hall was in the process of a major expansion to double its size, they decided to expand the show, a decision that received virtually unanimous support from dealer members of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association.
What began as a program to compete with the top domestic offerings -- Chicago, Los Angeles and New York – emerged as a full-fledged international event capable of matching and even surpassing any auto event on the globe.
Several dealer teams were formed to visit the global giants of the auto show world – Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris and Tokyo. A video promoting the Detroit show as an international event was prepared and presented as a promotional tool at all meetings with the manufacturers. The first stop was General Motors Corporation and a meeting with Chairman Roger Smith and President Robert Stempel. They were very supportive. The dealer teams also went to Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Corporation, enlisting their support.
A critical key for international recognition was the attendance of foreign media, as well as a horde of domestic auto and business writers. Toyota's new Lexus was six months away from public introduction in late 1988. A Detroit debut guaranteed that the Japanese media would arrive en masse. Toyota and Lexus Division welcomed the idea and the spotlight on their products in the hometown headquarters of the domestic industry. Nissan was also about to introduce its own luxury line, Infiniti. Nissan quickly gave their blessing to a Detroit unveiling. Commitments were also received from Hyundai, American Isuzu, American Honda & Acura Division, and Mitsubishi.
Meetings were held with the city of Detroit's administration to discuss requirements for enhancing the city's monorail system and parking accommodations during the public show.
1988: Ongoing discussions with exhibitors resulted in the creation of many versions of the floor plan as the auto show committee (comprised of new car dealer members of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association) worked toward accommodating each exhibitor's needs while, at the same time, creating a final floor plan that provided a level, global playing field with equitable representation for every NAIAS exhibitor.
Manufacturers' square footage allotments and space allocations are based on a number of considerations, including sales in the U.S. marketplace, new products and introductions committed to NAIAS (currently and historically).
1989: One of the first items on the agenda was the name of the show. In 1989, it became the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
The first NAIAS committee, consisting of two co-chairmen, an international advisor and committee members, accepted the task to learn all about international shows.
The NAIAS committee observed that pressrooms at international shows were not conducive to effective media relations. Michelin initiated discussions with NAIAS leadership and an agreement was reached. Michelin brought in a dozen professionals from New York City to set up a media center at NAIAS, complete with telephone, video and computer facilities. The first NAIAS press facilities measured 12,000 sq. ft. (1,100 sq. m.) and served 1,200 press attendees. The facility has since doubled in size and media attendance has increased five-fold.
The NAIAS committee recommended annual visits to the international shows, as well as to import manufacturers in California and New Jersey.
At the 1988 Frankfurt show, a dealer team met with a dozen high-ranking BMW representatives. The German executives sought precise details of the NAIAS plans and then promised a spectacular Detroit presence.
Other key industry events began to lend their support to the NAIAS. Automotive News World Congress rescheduled their event to coincide with NAIAS. The Society of Automotive Analysts Automotive began holding an 'Outlook Conference' during press days at NAIAS.
The Automotive Press Association/Detroit Auto Dealers Association established a reception toasting international media on Monday night of Press Days.
850 journalists, 60 of whom were international, attended the 1989 NAIAS.
1990: NAIAS began offering satellite uplinks for press conferences and also established more extensive video services to extend the media reach of the show globally.
Mercedes-Benz sent several Europeans to Detroit to build an exhibit that included parquet floors.
Supplier Preview Days began. The event offered automotive suppliers with the exclusive opportunity to preview the show before it opens to the public. It proved to be a successful event.
1992: Chrysler made page one news when its President, Bob Lutz, 'crashed' a Jeep Grand Cherokee into Cobo Center, shattering through special plate glass.
Reduced airfare rates were negotiated with Northwest Airlines for NAIAS visitors.
The syndication of a one-hour special was developed that aired nationally and began to lure nationally televised programs to cover NAIAS on-site.
The North American International Auto Show is sanctioned by OICA.
1993: The official NAIAS ShowTalk newsletter began publication.
1994: Multi-level sponsorships were offered to companies ranging from $25,000 to $50,000.
Crain Publications sponsored the Design Forum at NAIAS. This endeavor was very successful toward initiating a closer relationship with designers and the design community in sharing current trends.
1995: NACTOY (North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards debuted. These awards are determined by an independent jury of top North American media.
A VIP hospitality reception area was established, providing access to the main show floor.
1996: TIME Magazine, a major publication in North America, established a Time Quality Dealer Award (TMQDA) program throughout the United States, providing NAIAS with significant exposure in their publication. TIME Magazine provided the opportunity for TMQDA recipients to attend the show and also hosted a reception for TMQDA recipients at the Charity Preview.
1997: MSN CarPoint, Microsoft Corporation's automotive website, began serving as the official web site for NAIAS, providing up-to-the minute coverage of the show's press conferences and automobile industry events. In 2002, more than 6 million unique visitors visited for NAIAS CarPoint web site, creating unprecedented publicity for NAIAS worldwide.
A contract was negotiated with a WXYZ-TV/Channel 7, nationally syndicated, local television station (the official broadcast station for NAIAS). This partnership increased exposure overall, and specifically on nationally televised programs.
The Van Show was eliminated in Michigan Hall, an extension to the main show floor, in order to offer more redesigned and enhanced exhibit space for manufacturers. Michigan Hall was opened during Press Week to provide media exposure to new exhibitors.
1998: Volkswagen was located on the main show floor and Michigan Hall. The escalator access to Michigan Hall began part of the Volkswagen display.
1999: The Ford exhibit integrated corporate identity under the Ford umbrella.
Kiosk locations were located on show floor during Press Days and the public show to gather information for use by show management and for publicity purposes.
2000: The General Motors Corporation exhibit integrated corporate identity under the G.M. umbrella.
A hotel room reservation program was established to assist NAIAS visitors.
A shuttle service was established, providing transportation to visitors between designated hotels in the metropolitan area and Cobo Center, as well as an intra-hotel shuttle service between downtown hotels and Cobo Center.
2001: The Northwest World Club was provided a presence in the Cobo concourse, offering amenities to media and corporate executives attending NAIAS.
2002: The Food Court was relocated fron Michigan Hall to Cobo Arena to offer more space to manufacturers.
2003: NAIAS 2003 final attendance (810,699) eclipsed the previous show's high of 802,301, set in 2000.
In addition to Public Days and Charity Preview attendees, the show attracted nearly 28,000 people from 1,800 companies to Industry Preview Days and more than 6,600 journalists to Press Preview Days. Nearly 40 percent of media attendees were from outside the United States.
2004: The 2004 show saw a record 79 new vehicles introductions, 55 of which were worldwide unveilings.
NAIAS 2004 final attendance was 808,833 for public show.
2005: The 2005 NAIAS saw the introduction of 68 new vehicles. The NAIAS is a showcase for the world's vehicle introductions and has ushered in the debut of 924 total vehicles introductions since 1989.
NBC produced a 2 hour special live from the show floor on the closing day of the show which attracted 8.8 million viewers.
NAIAS 2005 final attendance was 773,422 during public show.
2006: The 2006 NAIAS saw the introduction of 70 new vehicles which included the first Chinese vehicles to ever be displayed in the United States. The NAIAS is a showcase for the world's vehicle introductions and has ushered in the debut of 994 total vehicles introductions since 1989.