Editor’s note: Story updated to reflect NADA’s corrected length of franchise meetings.
The National Automobile Dealers Association has opted to make its annual convention completely virtual and move it to February amid uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Until last week, when NADA’s executive committee decided on a virtual alternative, the organization had been tentatively moving ahead with plans to host its annual show Jan. 21-24 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. The event typically draws tens of thousands of dealers, vendors and other visitors from across the U.S. and other countries.
The virtual show is set for Feb. 9-11 — a rare Tuesday to Thursday schedule.
The coronavirus began its significant spread in the U.S. not long after the 2020 NADA Show in Las Vegas concluded in February. COVID-19 has since killed at least 210,000 Americans and infected some 7.5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. Globally, it has killed more than 1 million people and infected about 36 million.
The pandemic prompted a series of state and local government orders focused on social distancing to limit spread of the virus.
On Oct. 3, the city of New Orleans moved to Phase Three of its response to the pandemic, which allows more business and restaurant activity but still blocks trade shows.
“If the show were to be this month, we would be prohibited flat-out from doing it,” NADA CEO Peter Welch told Automotive News. He said there was no way to predict where the city will be in its pandemic response come January, just three months away.
NADA had been doing contingency planning for several weeks. It had looked at a hybrid, digital-and-physical option