Honda has canceled its press conference at the North American International Auto Show, citing financial conditions. The Insight will still be introduced at the show, but fanfare will be limited.

The Big Three's beleaguered hometown spectacle continues to shrink, as Honda has announced it won't stage a press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Citing the staggering economy, Honda says that the production version of the Insight will still be introduced and executive interviews available, but it's planning to forego the expense of the traditional, flashy media introduction.

Spokesman Chris Martin says, "Normally we have a great TV moment with special effects to reveal a new model. That's a very expensive prospect. Given the economic times, we just didn't see that as appropriate this year.
"We are not pulling out of shows completely," Martin adds.

With the economy in a tailspin, car manufacturers are looking for ways to cut costs, and auto show presentations are coming up as a luxury that many are deciding they can do without this year. Several manufacturers, including Nissan, Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Suzuki and Rolls-Royce, have dropped out of the Detroit show completely. Nissan and Infiniti don't plan to be in Chicago, the next stop on the North American auto show circuit, either.

The pullouts have cast a pall over an already-gloomy Detroit. The Los Angeles and Chicago auto shows have been challenging the Motor City's dominance for years, and it's proven hard to get departed manufacturers back. Porsche chose not to attend the 2008 North American International Auto Show, and shows no interest in returning. If the bloodletting continues, Detroit could lose its position of significance on the international auto show circuit entirely.

There is one small spot of good news: the many vacant spaces on Cobo Hall's show floor mean that the Chinese manufacturers who are slated to attend will share space with established marques, rather than being exiled to the auxiliary display space in the basement as they have been in past years. As the Chinese have not been taken particularly seriously in North America to date however, it remains to be seen whether this bit of diversity proves to be good or bad for the show's overall health.

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