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Nissan withdraws from Detroit auto show

Nissan says it is pulling out of the Detroit and Chicago auto shows as it cuts its marketing budget in the tight auto market.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Nissan Motor Co. said Monday it is pulling out of the Detroit and Chicago auto shows, citing the tough economy and the lack of new vehicles to unveil.

“Based on the fact that we have no major new products to show at the 2009 Detroit and Chicago auto shows, as well as the current economic conditions which will impact the shows’ marketing effectiveness, we have decided to cancel our involvement and participation,” the No. 3 Japanese automaker said in a statement.

The announcement comes after Nissan made a splash last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, where it unveiled the Nissan Cube, an updated 370Z roadster and a low-priced Versa. Its Infiniti luxury line unveiled its G37 convertible at the show.

Nissan is the latest and biggest automaker to withdraw from Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, scheduled to take place in January. Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, and Suzuki have all said they will not attend the show.

“I certainly respect Nissan and any of the other companies that have to make a decision — hopefully a short-term decision,” said Carl Galeana, co-chair of the Detroit show. “It’s tough for everyone right now.”

Although relatively small in terms of consumer attendance, the Detroit show tends to get the most press exposure among the major U.S. auto shows, especially from foreign journalists. The 2008 show attracted about 700,000 attendees when it was held in January.

Chris Denove, vice president of J.D. Power & Associates, said Nissan had little reason to spend the money on an appearance in Detroit, given that it already made its big product announcements in Los Angeles.

“Detroit consumers tend to be domestic buyers who typically are connected to one of the big three,” Denove said. “Ergo, (there are) not a whole lot of actual customers to reach out to in Detroit (for Nissan), relative to the cost of the show.”

The L.A. Auto Show, which is open until Nov. 30, attracted almost 1 million attendees last year, a spokesman said. The New York Auto Show claims the largest attendance, of about 1.2 million. The Chicago show, scheduled for February, does not report attendance figures but claims it is largest show in terms of space, with 1.3 million square feet.

Automakers have been cutting back on car shows as they seek to trim their budgets during the difficult economy. General Motors Corp. and Chrysler scaled back their presence at the LA show, where they unveiled no new vehicles and held no press conferences.