By Gary S. Vasilash
Auto shows, for purposes of publicity, have become passe. In terms of allowing consumers to get a chance to see a vast array of brand-new vehicles, they are great. But when it comes to getting attention from reportorial outlets, vehicle manufacturers have increasingly run the numbers and concluded that the input (the money they spend) is far in excess of the output (the amount of coverage) at auto shows.
During the past few years, OEMs have glommed on to the fact that there is a big technology show held in Las Vegas at the start of January each year, CES.
This used to be the “Consumer Electronics Show.” But the show organizers have presumably decided that it is better to be as inclusive as possible, so by using three letters rather than descriptive words, they can get more exhibitors.
As the fortunes of traditional auto shows have waned, those of CES have waxed.
So more and more automotive OEMs and suppliers have decided that CES is a place they need to be.
It doesn’t hurt that they want to be perceived, for purposes of stock valuation, as being “tech companies,” something that is a bit more difficult to pull off at a traditional auto show.
So a number of OEMs have signed up for CES.
Last January CES was entirely virtual. That was when COVID-19 was raging.
This January CES is being held in person. This will be when COVID-19 is raging.
Some tech companies came to the realization that a jammed trade show with people from all around the world (159 countries) in attendance—even though attendees must show proof of vaccination, wear masks, and get test kits along with their badges—is not a good venue while hospitals are at the breaking point with COVID cases.
Twitter, T-Mobile, Amazon, Intel, Lenovo, Google, Microsoft and Meta dropped out. Tech media outlets including TechCrunch and The Verge said they wouldn’t put their people in harm’s way.
In the automotive space General Motors and Waymo have announced they’re not going to physically participate.
The CES organizers maintain that the show must go on.
Here’s something to know: as of December 26, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), 84.36% of the ICU beds in Nevada are in use, of which 21.85% are for COVID patients.
Of course, were someone to attend CES and become infected they would probably back in their home locale before they became really sick.
So it should be known that HHS stats have it that in the U.S., as of December 26, 75.34% of all ICU beds are in use, of which 21.28% are in use for COVID patients.
Wonder how the ventilator supply is holding up. . . .
To say nothing of the nurses, doctors, orderlies, technicians, cleaning personnel, and all the other people who keep our medical facilities running, people who have been going through unmitigated hell because there are people and organizations that evidently are self-centered.
Yes, yes, we’re all tired of the pandemic. Yes, yes, we all want to get back to things in person. Yes, yes, plenty of people have been vaccinated.
Yes, yes, these are not normal times. Some companies clearly understand that. They clearly understand the health and safety of their people (and by extension, people who would come in contact with them) are critically important.
When companies ranging from Amazon to GM to Waymo figure CES isn’t the place to be, (1) how can other companies not come to that conclusion and (2) how can the CES organizers not understand that fact?