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Organizers Cancel Planned Virtual Edition of 2021 Montreal Auto Show

Organizers are now preparing for an in-person 2022 edition Automotive columnist: , Updated:

This past September, we learned that the next Montreal Auto Show (MIAS) scheduled for January 2021 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, many took consolation from learning that organizers had decided to present a virtual edition instead.

This decision has just been reversed. There will be no virtual edition of the Montreal show; organizers had planned to hold it between January 20 and 24, 2021. There is likely more than one cause, but the main one appears to be the lack of willingness among many automakers to invest the money and time required.

Clearly, despite all the good intentions of everyone involved, the pandemic and its recent upsurge have not made it easy for those trying to move forward with an event. This is all the more unfortunate since it could have been repeated elsewhere in the country while waiting for an end to the pandemic.

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Luis Pereira, Executive Director of the MIAS, had this to say:

"We have been working hand in hand for several weeks with the OEM’s and the virtual platform supplier, to create a model event and implement a state-of-the-art project, which would have been a first of its kind in North America. All efforts were put in place to ensure a good participation, and a unique customer journey for a virtual automotive event. We also took the initiative to collaborate with our fellow Canadian auto shows to replicate this same virtual experience across Canada, using one-unique platform for all shows, and help reduce the cost of content creation for exhibitors."

But those efforts were clearly not enough. According to Denis Dessureault, MIAS’ Executive Vice-President, “The pandemic has certainly not spared the automotive industry, (and given) the non-participation of a large number of car manufacturers in this edition, despite our best efforts; we are faced with the tough decision to cancel the virtual show. We are well aware, through our communications with manufacturers, that they are going through a difficult period, mostly related to the Coronavirus and its financial consequences, and that they are therefore seeking to limit their expenses."

He added this very interesting comment:

“One thing is certain: Auto Shows will not fade in favor of the Internet. Manufacturers will be present at the next edition at the Palais des congrès, much to the entertainment of attendees. We will continue to focus on organizing our next edition, which will return in 2022. Our primary objective is to continue to offer a platform that allows them to discover a complete offer of the automotive market, and assist them in their mobility choices, all presented in one place!”

For those who imagine the end of trade shows faced with the advent of telecommuting and Zoom-type applications, this is a refreshing perspective. While some practices are sure to change in a post-Covid world, one thing won’t: the need for people to see each other and gather together.

Show organizers say they will have more news to report in January. We will be sure to fill you in on any updates.