It feels like 2020 all over again today. Two years ago, Auto China, an auto show held every two years in Beijing, announced that it was being postponed to September due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.
At that time, most probably had only a vague idea of what lay ahead. All we knew was the world was coming, seemingly, to a standstill.
Now, 24 months later, we’re getting flashes of déjà-vu all over again. The biennial auto festival (the Beijing and Shanghai auto shows, the country's largest, alternate each year) set this year for the Chinese capital may well be postponed due to a surge in coronavirus infections in several cities across the Asian country.
Internal discussions are underway to reschedule the show, but no official information is ready to be released to the public, one of the event's organizers told Automotive News Group's China division. Some press reports indicate that the show will be moved to June.
That's discouraging, yes, but the overall situation is not as dire as it was two years ago, at least. Vaccines and new treatments, plus our far greater knowledge of the virus, put us far ahead of where we were in the spring of 2020. Still though…
Since the beginning of March, China is facing a new wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, the worst for China in fact since the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic first began to spread. Recent outbreaks have forced some automakers and suppliers to idle Chinese plants in response to closures and quarantines imposed by local and regional authorities.
This year, Mercedes-Benz wanted to use the event to showcase the EQS SUV, the brand's latest electric vehicle. Audi also planned to show the third Sphere concept that hints at the brand's future styling (exterior and interior) as well as its new multimedia technologies.
Last week, BMW revealed that it would unveil the next generation 7 Series, including the electric i7, at the Beijing show. Volkswagen, meanwhile, was set to showcase the ID Aero15 concept, the latest model in its ID electric family.
Earlier this month, Li Auto, a Chinese startup specializing in electric vehicles, said it would introduce its second product, the L9 SUV, at the event.
Clearly, a lot of planning will have to change if the show is indeed postponed. And let this be a reminder to all of us that despite the sorely needed recent relaxations on restrictions, the virus is still circulating and it can be unpredictable - to the point of upsetting our best-laid plans once again.