New York International Auto Show organizers are postponing the 12-day conference until late August due to the emerging coronavirus outbreak in the US — the first time since WWII that the annual event has been rescheduled.
The public exhibition, set to open early next month, is now scheduled for Aug. 28 through Sept. 6, confirmed Tuesday by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which owns and operates the event.
Mark Schienbery, president of the dealer group, said in a statement, “We are taking this extraordinary step to help protect our attendees, exhibitors, and all participants from the coronavirus.”
The show was created in 1900 and hasn’t been canceled or rescheduled since WWII, organizers said.
“It was suspended for two years during the Second World War. We know of no other postponements or cancelations,” said Chris Sams, spokesperson for the Greater New York Car Dealers Association.
The show is one of the leading annual events in the industry, drawing over 1 million visitors to the new prototypes and some of the fastest and most luxurious cars in the world.
The show’s postponement comes at a difficult period for the automobile industry, which has been wrestling with issues of vehicle production and supplier disruption as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak for months. It also contributes to challenging times for car exhibits, many of which in recent years have lost momentum and automaker attendance.
Historically, automakers have used auto shows to showcase their newest and most exciting products; however, due to logistics and expense, many have migrated into offsite events. At this time, it’s unknown how many of the automakers who were scheduled to debut more
than 50 new vehicles at this year’s show will postpone those announcements to August.
Automakers typically have set timelines for when the vehicle’s debut before going on sale. Spokespeople with some automakers previously said they were working on contingency plans for the show after the Geneva auto show was canceled earlier this month due to the Coronavirus.
Fiat Chrysler’s spokesperson, Rick Deneau, told the press Tuesday the Italian American automaker is “looking closely at other options,” refusing to elaborate any further.
After the Geneva auto show was canceled, many automakers moved to remote debuts with online video streams to showcase their products.
According to show officials, the New York auto show generates more than $330 million in economic benefits for the city and state annually.