Writing for the Detroit Free Press, Mark Phelan said that Ford “did a disservice” to multitudes of people – loyal customers, employees, and nearly 300,000 Detroit Auto Show visitors – when it staged a surprise late reveal of the refreshed, 2018 Ford Mustang at the event.
We agree. Whatever the reasons that Ford decided to unveil the new Mustang on Tuesday, after the 2017 Detroit North American International Auto Show had already been open to the public for three full days, it means that the hundreds of thousands who paid to attend the show in its first few days missed out on seeing an exciting new product.
That’s not to mention those souls who ponied up $400 per person to attend the charity preview last Friday.
For its part, Ford says it waited to unveil the Mustang on Tuesday so that it could simultaneously reveal the car in New York and Los Angeles, “so Mustang fans around the country can come and see it at the same time it goes on display in Detroit.” Why the automaker couldn’t have held those events on January 9th – the show’s first press day – is beyond us.
Ultimately, it’s just one automaker, and one product, but we’re uncomfortable with the precedent that Ford is setting. Auto shows can only thrive so long as there are carmakers willing to help bring in traffic with exciting new product reveals. Having missed the charity preview and the first public weekend, when attendance is generally at its highest, Ford would have been better off keeping a lid on the 2018 Mustang until the Chicago Auto Show in February.
“The Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which puts the show on and includes many Ford dealers, also has a legitimate gripe,” wrote Mr. Phelan. Again, we have to agree. Ford’s Mustang unveil faux pas benefited no one beside, perhaps, Ford.