The Detroit Auto Show (or North American International Auto Show) is running all week, and as you have probably guessed, it's a huge deal for automakers and consumers. While not on the scale of the CES, it is a huge event that draws nearly a million Detroit area residents, often in inclement weather conditions.
As one of the leading auto exhibits in the world, it's a chance for other industries that have a connection to cars and trucks to make a statement, too. This is why XM and Sirius have taken exhibit space the past few years.
But when you gaze at the floor map of Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center, you'll notice a glaring omission. There's no HD Radio booth, table, or exhibit. We sent our rep, Chris Crowley, to the show, and he couldn't find a single HD Radio logo or tie-in. Cruising up and down "radio row" (six stations were there) didn't yield any better results either. Chris spoke with staffers at each booth, asked about HD Radio, and received blank stares in return.
In defense of HD Radio, they had excellent presence at the CES, and we heard great things about their setup. But if a key to HD Radio is to get it into vehicles ASAP, then the chance to make a statement here in the Motor City, in front of a million eyes, and support the local radio stations that are working hard to promote HD Radio, is an opportunity missed.
Not to mention that the executives of the key auto companies - from Toyota to GM to BMW - are all here, showcasing their vehicles, and taking in the show. Several were interviewed by J.J. & Lynne, the morning team at CSX, and I was struck by the common theme that these CEOs use the show as an opportunity to scope out the competition. They are here to generate PR for their companies, but they are also gaining a measure of the rest of the industry, from cars and trucks, to accessories and peripherals. They also use the show to gauge interest in vehicles and options from consumers. They look carefully at the crowds lined up at the Ford Interceptor exhibit or the lines to ogle the concept Camaro. They use these shows to help in the decision-making process. It's like a focus group attended by thousands of car buyers.
Yes, the HD Alliance has to pick and choose its spots, but In this case, you could argue they missed a good one.