DETROIT — It’s that time of the year again. When the snow starts falling and the Christmas trees start going up, it’s a sign that the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is just around the corner.
This year, more than 40 new vehicles — concept cars and production models will make their world, North American or auto show premiere inside Detroit’s Cobo Center for the 2017 NAIAS.
“This year’s auto show is going to be the biggest and best ever,” said Sam Slaughter, chairman of this year’s auto show. “Probably the biggest highlight is Automobili-D, which is brand new for 2017. That’s really an opportunity for us to showcase, invite and have participate everything from automakers down to tech start-ups. It’s the first time that we’re having worldwide tech start-ups participate in an auto show.”
John Krafcik, CEO of the Google Self-Driving Car Project, now known as Waymo, will make an important announcement during his keynote speech during Automobili-D on Sunday, Jan. 8.
“We’re excited about John coming and he’s pretty excited, too. Apparently, he’s going to bring a vehicle with him. Google doesn’t really do auto shows, but they decided that Automobili-D is different enough that they felt it was important.”
How is Automobili-D going to be similar or different from Automobility LA held last November?
“I think the biggest difference is we’ve got 120,000 square feet right in the building where the auto show is. We’ve got start-ups from across the world that are going to participate and help us explain what they do.”
In terms of the auto show, are there any new automakers coming that have not been here previously?
“No, I don’t think we have any new automakers,” Slaugher explained. “As always, we’ve got some great reveals that are coming.”
Are most of the displays going to be in the same spots as last year or will there be some reconfiguration for 2017?
“There was a little bit of changing around. But the main ones are in the same places. We did a big change last year as you know and opened up some aisle ways and made it a bit easier to get around. We’re just refining that a little bit.”
One of the big debuts will be the 2018 Toyota Camry. Can you mention any others that are coming?
“I do know what GMC is going to make a big announcement,” the chairman said. “So we’ll have to see what that is. We’ve got several manufacturers doing multiple announcements.”
The Beach Boys will be performing during the annual Charity Preview night, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13.
“We’re excited about The Beach Boys. Especially during the wintertime in Detroit.”
What are some of your duties as the chairman?
“The biggest one is to make sure that everything runs smoothly,” Slaughter added. “Secondly, it’s talking with the press, making sure they have enough on their plate to get back to their readers and listeners.”
The 2017 North American International Auto Show opens to the media on Monday, Jan. 9. We’ll have complete coverage all week long up until public days, which open on Saturday, Jan. 14 and run through Sunday, Jan. 22.
> EXCLUSIVE: Win Free Tickets to the 2017 NAIAS Public Show Days!