Washington Auto Show moves to early spring 2021

The Washington Auto Show is getting a later start next year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, show organizers said Thursday.

Next year’s show is set to run March 26 through April 4 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the nation’s capital. The event had been scheduled to run Jan. 29 through Feb. 7.

“We believe this scheduling change is in the best interests of our attendees, our partnering auto manufacturers and the District of Columbia,” show CEO John O’Donnell said in a statement.

“Our top priority is to ensure the safety of all involved in this show, and we believe strongly that a two-month delay will better allow us to produce the type of well-rounded and immersive show that our attendees are accustomed to,” he said.

Brands that have reserved floor space so far are Acura, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Nissan, Ram, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen, said Mike Bushnell, a spokesman for the Washington Area New Automobile Dealers Association, which organizes the event.

An industry media day is set for March 25 — a day before the show opens to the public — and will include public policy and industry-focused events. There will not be a pre-show MobilityTalks International conference, organizers said.

Safety and social distancing protocols will also be implemented throughout the event, including timed ticketing, temperature checks, mandatory mask usage, density scanning, hand-sanitizing stations, wider aisles and overnight deep cleaning, among other efforts.

“We are certainly aware of the challenges facing all public events and facilities right now, and our hope is that the extra couple of months will make attending the show more enticing for more people,” Bushnell said in an email. “We’re planning for a number of different scenarios, but this really is an unprecedented situation.”

Additional details about the show will be announced in the coming months.

The 2020 Washington Auto Show opened its doors to the public Jan. 24, before nationwide lockdowns were imposed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating domestic and international automakers included the Detroit 3, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Volkswagen.

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