Audi joins German rivals in dropping out of N.Y. show

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The Four Rings won’t stand alone in Manhattan — at least not this year.

Audi of America will be bypassing the 2020 New York auto show in April, joining fellow German luxury brands BMW and Mercedes-Benz on the sidelines of one of the largest and most prestigious auto shows in the United States.

In a statement to Automotive News on Friday from Tara Rush, Audi of America’s chief communications officer, the German luxury brand confirmed that it would not participate in the 2020 show. In the statement, Rush said it is “important to review the way we bring the Audi experience to life and introduce our new products and innovations to media and consumers.”

Rush said Audi would “continue to evaluate auto shows on a case-by-case basis moving forward to determine if they are the best platform for U.S. and world premieres of our upcoming models.”

The New York auto show has traditionally drawn more than a million visitors annually to the Javits Convention Center, and — along with Los Angeles — has been viewed as one of the most prestigious shows for automakers to use to introduce new products. However, like other auto shows, high fixed costs and stiff internal competition for marketing dollars have many automakers re-examining the shows’ value.

Audi is in the midst of an expensive transformation of its lineup as it moves rapidly away from diesel powertrains to battery-electric models such as the e-tron crossover. Like other German automakers, it was financially pressured in recent years by emissions scandals in Europe that damaged diesel vehicle sales and the imposition of the new WLTP testing standard.

Last year, Audi used the New York show to mark its 50th year in the United States with an event at the Classic Car Club Manhattan under then Audi of America President Mark Del Rosso, who resigned effective May 2. Since Sept. 1, Audi of America has been led by Daniel Weissland.

A spokesman for the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, which owns and operates the show, said it was made aware of Audi’s decision a month ago and had been working on a plan, in cooperation with local Audi dealers, to keep an Audi presence on the New York show floor in 2020. The status of that alternative plan was unclear, however.

A spokesman for Porsche Cars North America confirmed that Porsche will continue to participate in the New York show in 2020.

Mark Schienberg, president of the NYADA, told Automotive News that Audi’s decision angered local Audi dealers, who stand to benefit most directly from their brand participating in the show.

“It’s such an important market; the New York [metro area] is the No. 1 market for Audi. That’s what took us by surprise,” Schienberg said. “You’re giving up a show that brings a million people to your product.”

Schienberg said Audi’s floor space in the Javits Center will be filled. He said the New York auto show has attracted interest from new luxury electric automakers, though he said he couldn’t release their names until contracts were finalized. Rivian, a startup battery-electric truck maker that displayed at the 2019 show will not be returning, Schienberg said.

Audi’s decision to skip the 2020 New York show comes after the three top German luxury brands opted to abandon the Detroit auto show in 2019. That decision was a factor the Detroit show’s change in calendar this year from January to June. However, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all had displays at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

Late Friday, an Audi of America spokeswoman told Automotive News that that the brand won’t participate in the 2020 Detroit show. 

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