The Geneva Motor Show is widely regarded as the most important car show of the year. Manufacturers often choose the event to debut their latest motor-driven marvels and attract approximately 600,000 visitors to the Swiss exhibition each year.
Some enthusiasts of the wheel may recall that the 2020 Geneva Motor Show was among the very first major automotive events to be cancelled following the outbreak of the virus in China. The final decision was cancelled two weeks before the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus to be a global pandemic, and although this decision has most likely saved lives it has certainly damaged the financial stability of the organisers. This year’s show would have been the 90th in a long line of annual events.
An unfortunate combination of the financial consequences of the cancellation and the pace of the pandemic has lead to the organisers decision to cancel the 2021 Show. The foundation behind the show announced that in a recent poll a majority of exhibitors said that they would probably not participate in the 2021 event and would prefer the next one to be held in 2022 instead.
The Geneva International Motor Show is the largest public event in Switzerland and has a considerable economic impact of $210m a year, according to the organisers. The Committee and Council of the Foundation “Salon International de l’Automobile,” which puts on the show, has appealed to the local government for financial relief following this year’s cancellation. The Canton of Geneva put forward an offer of $17.6m. However, the foundation was not in agreement with specific terms of the loan including the condition that the 2021 show go on. The foundation is now attempting to sell the rights of the Geneva Motor Show to Palexpo SA, the group that operates and owns the convention center that hosts the event.
Following the cancellation of the 2020 show, other major automotive events also shifted to the widely adopted digital format. Now that the most major event of them all has been cancelled, a long shadow of doubt has been cast on the continuation of business ‘as normal’ for the automotive exhibition industry.