Motor shows are struggling to survive in the era of the coronavirus (no one passed the memo to Beijing though), and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) – the traditional curtain raiser in the big motor show circuit – was among the ones to wave the white flag to Covid-19 earlier this year.

The 2020 edition of NAIAS was supposed to be a new chapter for the show, with a mid-year slot in June instead of a wintery January, but as Covid-19 cases mounted, the show’s downtown venue (TCF Center) was instead used as a field hospital for coronavirus patients.

The reason that organisers Detroit Auto Dealers Association moved the show from January to the summer was so it could offer outdoor events along the riverfront, including test drives, demonstrations of self-driving cars and other new tech, plus the Motor Bella, a pre-show street festival of English and Italian cars in downtown Detroit. All that will be carried forward to the 2021 show, they said then.

And so it will, but NAIAS 2021 will no longer be in the summer. The new dates are from September 28 to October 9, but the indoor and outdoor plan remains.

“We have talked with many of our partners, particularly the OEMs, and they are fully on board and excited about the date change. Our responsibility as an auto show is to host a global stage for current products as well as mobility innovations of tomorrow. September is an excellent time of year for new product, and at the same time, alleviates the challenges a now crowded spring auto show calendar presents for auto show stakeholders,” NAIAS executive director Rod Alberts said.

Moving forward, NAIAS will remain a fall show, and dates have already been secured with TCF Center for the next three years, organisers say. They added that late September was chosen with the new IAA in Munich in mind. The German motor show is scheduled for the first full week of September.

“Spreading out major auto shows is a win for everyone, particularly our partners. It gives auto companies an opportunity to give it their best at each and every show, which creates excitement for those who attend, too,” Alberts added.

“With seasonable autumn temperatures and technology and experiential activations positioned throughout the city, show visitors will be able to enjoy fall in a walkable, vibrant Motor City while embracing the future of the industry right before their eyes,” said 2021 NAIAS chairman Doug North, who added that the Detroit event will include dynamic displays and experiential ride-and-drives. The NAIAS campus will include product and technology activations both inside TCF Center and throughout the Michigan city.

NAIAS will continue to host seven shows in one: Motor Bella, The Gallery, Press Preview, AutoMobili-D, Industry Preview, Charity Preview and Public Show.