Apr 30, 2023

Want to ride in a driverless car? You can do it at the Detroit Auto Show.

The Detroit Auto Show is revving its electric engine and is eager to get you behind the wheel — or at least in the passenger seat.

On Wednesday, June 7, the North American International Detroit Auto Show announced highlights and dates for the September event held at Huntington Place in Detroit with an emphasis on immersive experiences.

Last year's show was the first time back in-person and organizers left feeling like they were on the right track in bringing the auto show back to its heyday. Show officials expect double the number of participating brands for the 2023 show, starting Wednesday, Sept. 13 with media day.

This includes "strong support" from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis with all three committed to participating with their full brand portfolio, according to a press release. Multiple vehicle debuts have been confirmed for the show, and there will be increased representation from a number of brands.

Related: People expected a ‘total flop.’ But Detroit Auto Show organizers are beaming.

Brand-specific tracks from Jeep, Ram and Ford will return, along with new experiential activations. Last year's Bronco Mountain, RAM Truck Territory and Jeep Camp were main attractions inside the showroom. Guests could pile into the backseat of a Jeep, Ford Bronco or Dodge RAM truck to scale 45-degree gradients, navigate obstacle courses and haul heavy loads across the show floor.

Once again the auto show will zero in on an electrified future.

"This year's show represents the next step in its evolution and in the evolution of the industry itself," said Detroit Auto Show Chairman Thad Szott.

Sitting alongside a professional driver, show-goers will traverse through a serpentine track that includes an acceleration lane stretching more than 300 feet, according to the press release.

The popular street course ride-and-drives showed participants wanted interactive, engaging experiences. This year's show's will build on that demand with an EV and autonomous course traveling along the Detroit riverfront over portions of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix downtown race circuit.

Related: 10 weird and wild experiences at the 2022 Detroit Auto Show

"Automotive technology is changing so rapidly; how do we make people comfortable with it? We’re planning for a show that not only embraces and educates about this new technology, but offers an immersion into it," Szott said. "And with twice the number of brands participating, there’ll be no shortage of engaging with it."

Last year, Szott told MLive the show ‘surprised a lot of people’ and automakers who didn't attend expressed regret.

"What we pulled off here, I think we surprised a lot of people," Szott said in 2022. "A lot of people around the globe did not think we would even have a show. With inventory shortages and the way that manufacturers go to market these days, a lot of people were saying it was going to be a total, total flop or it's going to get canceled like some other world shows."

Despite a roughly 50% decline in attendance compared to pre-pandemic, the 2022 event blew away the 2021 iteration of the show – called Motor Bella and hosted outdoors at Pontiac's M1 Concourse during a rainy week in September.

The 2022 auto show kicked off with a major headliner: President Joe Biden.

On the showroom floor, Biden got behind the wheel several of the Big Three's displays and even test drove an electric Cadillac Lyriq through the show room. After his test drive, Biden spoke to a crowd of union workers.

At the time, Biden was promoting the $52 billion The CHIPS and Science Act.

"It use to be that to make a car you had to make all sorts of compromises," Biden said. "Not now. Now, thanks to American ingenuity, American engineers, American auto workers, it's all changed. Today's electric vehicle with a long-range model is made in America."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to present a keynote speech during the show's all-new Mobility Global Forum, held concurrently with media and technology days on Sept. 13 - 14. She's expected to address Michigan's leadership role in the electrification of the automobile industry.

"Michigan has been the center of the automotive world for a century, and we will define the future of mobility and electrification," Whitmer said. "Our economic development efforts, innovative talent programs and strong workforce are helping us bring home thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs and supply chains of electric vehicles, batteries, chips and other emerging mobility technology. Together, we will continue leading and building the future."

The signature Charity Preview event is Friday, Sept. 15. The show opens to the public Saturday, Sept. 16 - Sunday, Sept. 24.

More on MLive:

Detroit Auto Show presents electric future, but life outside the showroom is gas-powered

Biden test drives EVs, rallies UAW workers at Detroit Auto Show

4 takeaways from Mackinac Island Policy Conference

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