Stellantis, the automaker formed in 2021 from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot maker PSA Group, has withdrawn from the 2024 Chicago Auto Show. This ends the company’s participation in the show after 97 straight years.
Long History of Chrysler Group at Chicago Auto Show
The former Chrysler Corporation and its successor companies have had an uninterrupted run of exhibiting vehicles at the Chicago show since 1928.
Highlights of Chrysler’s history at the show include:
- Debuting important production cars like the 1934 Chrysler Airflow and 1957 Chrysler 300C
- Outrageous concept cars in the 1950s through 1970s like the 1956 Dodge Firearrow sports car and 1969 Dodge Charger III show car
- Massive displays like the 60-foot Prague Castle recreation in 1987 featuring the new Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance
“The Chicago show has been an incredible platform for us to connect with customers in the Midwest and showcase our latest vehicles and technologies,” said company spokesperson Jenny Gallo.
So Stellantis’ decision to withdraw ends an era for both the longtime exhibitor and North America’s largest and longest-running auto show.
Stellantis Revaluating Auto Show Participation
In a January 4 statement, Stellantis said it is “re-evaluating auto show participation to ensure the best return on investment.” The company will still attend some 2024 shows like New York on a case-by-case basis.
Stellantis cited various factors driving this business decision:
- Changing consumer behavior and preferences: Auto shows draw large crowds less reliably post-pandemic. More engagement is shifting online.
- Rising costs: Exhibiting production and concept vehicles, staffing massive displays, etc carries substantial expense.
- Economic uncertainty: A potential 2023 recession could further dampen show attendance and ROI.
Auto shows still deliver value by allowing customers to see, touch and experience vehicles first-hand. But that’s not always worth the seven-figure investment.
“As consumer behaviors shift, we are evaluating the best channels to convey product information while creating brand excitement,” Gallo explained.
Implications Beyond Chicago: End of an Era?
Industry observers see Stellantis’ Chicago announcement as part of a larger shift in OEM auto show strategy taking shape.
Ford and GM also confirmed they won’t advertise during Super Bowl LVIII. Automakers face inflationary and recessionary pressures that their marketing budgets aren’t immune to.
“This is us optimizing marketing spend during an uncertain economy to deliver the most value,” said GM CMO Deborah Wahl.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and other premium brands have already scaled back certain auto show commitments. More automakers could follow as economic challenges squeeze marketing dollars industry-wide.
“This is an inflection point for the traditional auto show model,” AutoTrends analyst Jack Vander Aarde said. “As consumer behavior evolves post-pandemic, OEMs are rethinking investments in these high-cost physical events versus lower-cost digital channels.”
What Automakers Still Value in Auto Shows
But major auto shows likely aren’t going away entirely. OEM insiders cite benefits like:
- Mass customer exposure and brand awareness from extensive media coverage
- Local dealer connections and new sales opportunities
- Comparing latest models side-by-side that digital channels can’t replicate
So automakers will likely maintain selective show presences aligned to specific business goals.introduce important new models.
“There’s still unique value in experiential physical events versus digital when done right,” said Vander Aarde. “It’s about being more targeted to optimize ROI.”
Ram, Jeep and Dodge Brands Still Coming to 2024 Chicago Auto Show
The Stellantis statement caused confusion around whether its American brands would attend Chicago sans corporate display. But Ram truck and Jeep SUV officials have since confirmed plans to exhibit as usual.
“We look forward to returning to the 2024 Chicago Auto Show to interact with attendees while displaying our award-winning truck lineup,” said Ram CEO Mike Koval.
That likely includes the all-new 2024 Ram 1500 (Rebel, Laramie, etc.) and the Ram 1500 TRX high-performance truck.
Jeep officials also reiterated intent to showcase the iconic brand’s latest SUVs. The Jeep display may highlight the forthcoming 2024 Jeep Wagoneer L and 2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid.
Dodge didn’t comment but will likely feature the limited-run 2024 Dodge Hornet GLH performance crossover, 2024 Dodge Charger, and 2024 Dodge Challenger.
So while Stellantis corporate is absent, show attendees can still see the group’s vehicles from its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands.
What Happens Next: Chicago Auto Show’s Future Direction
The Chicago Auto Show has suddenly lost one of its cornerstone, longest-running participants. Organizers expressed disappointment but emphasized the show will go on.
“Though Stellantis will not have a manufacturer display, their vehicles will be featured prominently in dealer and consumer rides and drives,” said 2024 Chicago Auto Show chairman Bill Haggerty.
Even minus a major OEM, this year’s show still offers attendees the ability to experience over 1,000 vehicles from 40+ automakers first-hand.
Haggerty said organizers will continue enhancing unique programming like test tracks, test drives and interactive brand displays. The focus is crafting differentiated show value versus other channels.
“Our commitment going forward is delivering an exceptional and cost-effective platform for OEMs, dealers, consumers and media,” he stated.
But the Stellantis announcement may accelerate reimagining the 120+ year-old show to fit a new era. More schedule, space and format changes could manifest to address industry shifts when organizing the 2025 Chicago show and beyond.
“We must continue evolving the show experience to align with attendee and exhibitor needs in today’s landscape,” Haggerty said. “This situation provides further impetus to introduce new ideas that drive value and engagement.”
That likely includes more digital integration and non-traditional elements while retaining the core emotional experience that physical auto shows uniquely offer.
|2024 Chicago Auto Show
|Stellantis withdraws corporate participation after 97 straight years, ending an era
|Key Factors Driving Decision
|Changing consumer behavior, rising costs, economic uncertainty
|Broader Industry Impact?
|Possible auto show strategy shift for OEMs facing recession/cost pressures
|Ram, Jeep, Dodge still exhibiting latest trucks and SUVs
|Chicago Auto Show’s Response
|Disappointed but focused on show’s future as industry evolves
The 2024 Chicago show will miss its cornerstone Stellantis after nearly a century of support. But Ram, Jeep and Dodge brands still plan engaging exhibits. This watershed moment may accelerate larger evolution of the show’s direction and offerings. The Chicago Auto Show is focused on delivering differentiated value to justify investment in the evolving consumer and industry landscape.
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