The 2020 edition of the Geneva Motor Show was to be held starting March 5th of this year at the Palexpo exhibition centre. Just days before the show, on 28 February, organizers announced that the show would be cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis.
At that time, the crisis was only in its early stages, but gatherings of 1,000 people had just been banned in Switzerland. Since then, auto shows have dropped like flies, one after the other. The New York event, postponed to August, is the latest to fall victim to Covid-19.
Only Los Angeles is left this year, but even there it’s uncertain whether that show will go on. It’s scheduled for late November.
"See you in 2021," is the common refrain when it comes to any large-scale event.
But the damage caused by the pandemic could have effects spanning beyond this calendar year – just ask organizers of the Tokyo Olympics. Or, listen to what those behind the Geneva Motors Show are saying.
In an official statement, the Motor Show explained that the decision in March to cancel the event had substantially weakened it financially. The organization has requested help from the Canton of Geneva to cover its losses, estimated at 11 million francs, and to help it prepare for the 2021 edition.
As part of the negotiations, organizers said the proposed aid package came with conditions that include entrusting Palexpo SA with the design and organization of the show, which is not acceptable to them. Show planners added that the conditions "are in contradiction to the statutes and especially to the purpose of the foundation formulated more than 100 years ago".
The impasse thus casts doubt on the holding of the event in 2021.
Several exhibitors are reportedly campaigning for the next edition to be held in 2022, while the Motor Show plans to "restore its financial stability as soon as possible so that it can organize the next event".
Clearly, at least some of this is down to negotiating tactics and posturing. There may well be an agreement that salvages the 2021 show. Fortunately, March 2021 is still a long way off. Beyond all of this, of course, is the hope that the pandemic will be under control by then. And that remains a big question mark.