Seeking to stay relevant in the embattled auto show circuit and in sync with the industry zeitgeist, organizers of the Los Angeles Auto Show plan to integrate it with the affiliated Connected Car Expo and rebrand the annual event as AutoMobility LA.
The resulting four-day trade show — followed by a more conventional public show — will look beyond the traditional sheet metal introductions by automakers and incorporate disparate elements of the mobility movement, including car designers, tech startups, government officials, dealers and venture-capital investors.
Organizers hope the mash-up will lead to more partnerships like the Lyft/General Motors pact, which originated with a meeting at last year’s show.
“AutoMobility LA is the natural evolution of what we’ve already been doing — it is a platform where the industry can learn and connect, while also remaining a proven stage for global auto reveals and game-changing announcements,” said Lisa Kaz, CEO of the L.A. Auto Show.
The move comes at a time when auto shows around the world are struggling to retain their grip on high-profile product introductions and global media attention. Automakers are increasingly turning to cheaper off-site venues and technology showcases such as CES to debut new products, where they can more tightly control the message without having to compete for attention.
Detroit’s auto show has added a mobility expo for 2017, with more space devoted to startups and advanced technologies.
In that context, organizers of the L.A. show see an opportunity to move beyond the traditional vehicle-focused event and loop in a wider swath of people whose jobs relate to mobility at large.
The event opens on Monday, Nov. 14. Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields will deliver the keynote speech Tuesday night.
To facilitate more interaction across industries, organizers have cut down the number of manufacturer press conferences on Wednesday — traditionally the biggest day of the show for automakers. Half the day will be launches, while the other half will be press conferences by tech companies, speaker panels and time for attendees to interact with exhibitors.
The best example of what organizers want to foster is the dialogue that led to the $500 million deal between Lyft and General Motors.
John Zimmer, co-founder of Lyft, had just finished his keynote speech at the Connected Car Expo when he was approached by GM President Dan Ammann for what turned into a three-hour meeting.
By early January, the two companies announced their landmark deal.
“I love that,” Lefty Tsironis, director of experiential marketing for the L.A. event, told Automotive News. “There’s the ultimate personification of what we call the “new auto industry.’ They’re doing things they’ve never done before with people they’ve never done it with.”