Mitsubishi pulls out of Detroit Auto Show

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Supplying models for Saturn may provide a lifeline for Mitsubishi’s U.S. production facilities

Supplying models for Saturn may provide a lifeline for Mitsubishi’s U.S. production facilities

Auto shows are generally where carmakers like to 'wow' their future customers and show off their new models to both industry rivals and the press. But with the current economic crisis affecting the automotive industry so severely, many companies are choosing to forgo attending the current lineup of events to reduce expenses. Interestingly, it's not just the struggling brands you might expect to cut back, but even ultra-luxury marques such as Rolls-Royce and Ferrari are having to give up certain legs of the auto show circuit.

As we reported previously, January’s Detroit Auto Show, arguably one of the biggest in the industry, will have several noticeable empty booths - including Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Land Rover and Suzuki. Now, a major carmaker, Mitsubishi, has confirmed that it is pulling out of the Detroit event. It still plans to be present at the Los Angeles, Chicago and New York shows next year. The reason behind the decision is purely as a way to reduce costs, with Mitsubishi even admitting that the Detroit market is not a huge sales earner.

What’s more worrying is that the latest announcement paves the way for other major carmakers to also pull out from the show. With less than eight weeks to go, several other carmakers have revealed to Automotive News that they are still reviewing their plans for the 2009 auto show circuit.

The Detroit event is one of the most important motor shows in the world, with a history stretching back over a century. However, even with the drop-outs, the halls of the Cobo Center will remain packed as a number of Chinese firms, including the likes of Brilliance and BYD, plan to attend.

Meanwhile, Suzuki has also stated that it just does not make financial sense to spend money wooing customers at Detroit, a view echoed by the likes of Ferrari, Land Rover and Rolls Royce. Without a hint of irony, Rolls Royce's North American chief remarked that auto shows were "expensive". Porsche decided to pull out back in 2006 and has no current plans to return.

While the LA show was down by 20% in terms of exhibitors, Detroit is expected to fare worse, with 25% of its expected manufacturers pulling out. Upcoming shows such as the New York and Chicago events are also expected to suffer, with rumors that both GM and Ford are renting less space than last year.

This latest news comes less than a month after Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko said the firm may end production of the Galant in the United States due to poor sales.

 
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