‘Challenging’ market prompts Stellantis to re-evaluate auto show

Chrysler parent company Stellantis says future participation in North American auto shows will be looked at on a “case-by-case basis” amid headwinds in the auto market.

“With a focus on preserving business fundamentals to mitigate the impact of a challenging automotive market in North America, Stellantis is working to optimize its marketing strategy as it relates to auto shows,” Stellantis spokesperson LouAnn Gosselin said in a statement to CBC News.

“To be as efficient as possible in our media spend, we are encouraging our dealers to evaluate participation in auto shows on a case-by-case basis, while prioritizing opportunities for consumers to experience our vehicles first hand.”

The development was first reported by Automotive News Canada.

Gosselin, head of communications for the company’s Canadian operations, confirmed the company will be represented at the Canadian International AutoShow in February, with Toronto-area dealers footing the bill.

Gosselin did not address a question from CBC on Stellantis’s status for the North American International Detroit Auto Show.

The company, which manufactures vehicles including Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Chrysler models, didn’t elaborate on what specific challenges fuelled the decision.

Focus on technology

The news comes on the heels of big raises for autoworkers on both sides of the border and major investment in the electric vehicle (EV) market, including through a multibillion-dollar battery plant under construction in Windsor, Ont.

In 2023, the number of Stellantis vehicles sold in Canada fell by six per cent over the previous year, annual sales data released on Wednesday showed.

Stellantis operates an assembly plant in Windsor, where the Chrysler Pacifica minivan is built.

Joe McCabe, president and chief executive officer of AutoForecast solutions, said Stellantis’s move reflects the declining relevance and popularity of auto shows, with vehicle manufacturers now more focused on showing off their tech at shows like CES, the annual event organized by the Consumer Technology Association.

“The floor space is very expensive,” he said, referring to auto shows. “I think they’re going to focus on their innovation.”

McCabe said automakers are facing challenges, including new entrants to the market, higher labour and material costs and an increased focus on domestic production, which costs more.

“I think we’re going to see the Detroit Three sort of say, ‘We’re going to play it a little closer to the vest,'” he said.

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