Last year, the Chicago Auto Show was held as scheduled in February. It was the last major auto show held in North America before the coronavirus turned the world’s schedule upside down.
This year's February event was postponed, as the pandemic continued to rage and the fledgling vaccination campaign was just ramping up in the U.S. However, things are evolving rapidly and a return to normalcy is beginning to take shape south of our border.
We saw the first sign of this yesterday when the organizers of the 2021 Chicago Auto Show announced that their annual event will be held from July 15 to 19. If all goes according to plan, it will be the first major U.S. auto show to return after the pandemic-enforced hiatus.
Organizers posted an announcement on the show's official website describing the scope of the special “Summertime Edition”, which will move to McCormick Place's West Building where it can spread out outside and take advantage of the summer weather. This will be very different from anything we know about a show usually held in the middle of winter in often brutally cold Chicago. This will allow for unique outdoor activities and a reduction in transmission risks, too, although one can imagine that proof of vaccination might be required for access.
We're still swimming in uncharted waters on this.
“We've been working with McCormick Place officials for months on an opening plan, and very early on they saw that our show may provide a pathway to re-opening the facility. We stand committed to providing a safe environment for all involved and will carefully adhere to the health and safety protocols and guidelines set forth by city and state officials. McCormick Place is an important economic engine for our city and state, and we take very seriously the responsibility that comes with helping to get it running again.”
- Dave Sloan, executive director of the Chicago Auto Show
If the Chicago show goes ahead as planned in July, it will be the first major automotive event to be held in the United States this year. New York is set to follow at the end of August. Detroit will have a different type of event in 2021, under the banner of the new Motor Bella show in Pontiac, MI; the plan for it is to return to regular programming in 2022.
Finally, the Los Angeles Auto Show, which had been moved to May 2021, is back to its usual schedule, at the end of November.