There will be no International Motor Show in Geneva next year. Organizers fear that the coronavirus pandemic may extend until 2021. Yes, we are now at the point when companies and governments are starting to look at next year.
The announcement by the Geneva Motor Show comes as no surprise, mind you.
As it happens, the annual event in Switzerland was the first of the year to be cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, although other major events, including those in New York, Detroit and Paris, have since been sacrificed as well. In fact, industry officials are understandably wondering when it will be safe to hold such an event again.
"It is far from certain that the current health situation would allow an event attracting more than 600,000 visitors and 10,000 journalists next spring," the organizers of what is officially known as the International Motor Show said in an e-mail statement. As a result, "a majority of GIMS (Geneva International Motor Show) exhibitors who responded to a survey said they would probably not participate in an edition in 2021".
In North America, as elsewhere, dozens of smaller gatherings have also been removed from the calendar for this year and the question many industry planners are asking is whether it will be possible to bring them back once the calendar flips over, at least in the first half of 2021. Epidemiologists and other medical experts, including renowned U.S. epidemiologist Anthony Fauci, who helped lead the White House response to the pandemic, continue to warn of a "second wave" of Covid-19 infections.
The last-minute cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show this year created a financial nightmare for organizers, and that represents the other big factor that led to the early cancellation of next year's event. This year organizers have been left with a shortfall amounting to 16.8 million Swiss francs. Governmental help was offered, but under certain conditions that event organizers refused to accept. It is now believed that the show will be sold to the owners of the PALExpo convention centre, where it is held every winter.
The question everyone is asking is: is this the end of auto shows as we know them? In the short term, the answer is of course yes, but once this crisis is over, will a semblance of normal return? And if so, when...