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Is It Time To Kill The Auto Show?

Thursday, 9 Apr 2009 | 10:39 AM ET

It was an interesting question, and one I knew would be coming.

Shortly after the doors opened to press days at the New York Auto Showsomeone asked me, "Do these auto shows really serve a purpose anymore?" Given the economy and the weakness of the auto makers, one could say auto shows are a luxury the industry could afford to cut.

I disagree.

Oh make no mistake, I think there are things about auto shows that should go (handing out new car brochures like candy at Halloween and the long-winded, generally boring speeches from car execs unveiling new models deadly). And with the shortened and blurred news cycles, one could argue the auto makers don't benefit with extra exposure from spending oodles of money introducing new cars.

That said, I think auto shows do serve a purpose. They are still an effective way for auto makers to market themselves to the public. It's tougher and tougher to get people into showrooms, so the convention hall is where they can at least hope to get someone interested in their new car or truck.

Whether they can win over that person is a totally different question.

In many ways, the luxury auto makers have the smartest approach to using the auto shows. They pick and choose which ones will give them their biggest bang and play them up. That's why Mercedes plays up the New York Show. Sure, Mercedes has a sizable presence at other shows like L.A and Detroit, but in the big apple Mercedes makes a big deal. In this case it showed off it's newest E-Class.

So call me one of those who thinks the auto show should live-on.

Change them, make them more relevant and maybe even a little smaller (some of these auto displays are filled with also run models and trucks), but don't kill the auto show.

2010 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC
Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com
2010 Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC

More NY Auto Show photos



2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Oliver Quillia for CNBC.com
2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

More NY Auto Show photos

2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
Jonathan K. Li for CNBC.com
2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe


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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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