It used to be North America's premier motor show, a celebration of all things four-wheeled held in the capital city of car-making, Detroit. Nowadays things are a little different. The economic slowdown has put the pinch on several automakers, discouraging the launch of new products and lessening the justification for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on show stands. As a result, Ferrari, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and even Suzuki are reportedly planning on leaving the frock in the cupboard and passing on the 2009 Detroit Auto Show entirely.
As a small concession, Suzuki is holding a small dinner for journalists the night before the show in order to inform the press of the company's new offerings. Ferrari, Land Rover and Rolls on the other hand are making no such arrangements, with Ferrari having nothing new to show off (the California will make its North American debut at the LA Auto Show this week) and Land Rover and Rolls Royce also having no new products to launch.
Manufacturer absenteeism is a problem faced by Australian motor shows too. Mercedes, Porsche and Rolls-Royce are usually no-shows, while at this year's somewhat disappointing Sydney Motor Show, Audi, Jaguar, Bentley and even Fiat, SAAB and SSangYong didn't bother showing up.
Despite losing a handful of manufacturers, the Detroit show isn't dead just yet. Volkswagen is planning to debut a new roadster concept and Ford will be debuting new five vehicles at Detroit. Although Detroit is 20 exhibitors down on last year's show, there's still around 60 companies who'll be there to push their wares.