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. While these brands may be considered smaller players, a number of major carmakers have also confirmed they won’t be attending next year.

Last week Mitsubishi announced it was pulling out of the show, and recently Nissan also confirmed that it would miss the Detroit event. The Japanese carmaker also announced that it would skip February’s Chicago Auto Show as well, but has confirmed today that it will attend the Chicago event because of pressure from dealers.

Speaking with Automotive News, Nissan corporate spokesman Alan Buddendeck said the decision reflects the current state of the industry and not the shows themselves. The Chicago event draws about one million visitors a year.

What’s more worrying is that this appears to be a growing trend and we may see other major carmakers also pull out from the show. With less than eight weeks to go, several other carmakers have revealed that they are still reviewing their plans for the 2009 auto show circuit.

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. 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. 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.