Car industry's biggest annual event is canned following continued spread of Covid-19
James Attwood, digital editor
28 February 2020

This year’s Geneva motor show has been cancelled due to the continued spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The announcement was made by event organisers after several confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Geneva and other parts of Switzerland. There has been a substantial outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in China, in northern Italy recently, with cases announced in a number of other European countries.

While organisers initially said the motor show, the biggest event in the automotive calendar, would continue, recent moves by authorities in Geneva and Switzerland to try to limit the spread of Covid-19 led to them finally pull the plug.

Organisers cited "force majeure" when announcing to exhibitors that the event would not go ahead. They also ruled out postponing the event until a later date, noting its size meant that was unfeasible.

Chairman of the Foundation Board Maurice Turrettini said: "We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors' top priority. This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision."

The organisers added: "The dismantling of the event will now have to be organised. The financial consequences for all those involved in the event are significant and will need to be assessed over the coming weeks. One thing is certain: tickets already purchased for the event will be refunded. The organisers will communicate about this as soon as possible, via their website."

On Friday morning, the Swiss government banned large gatherings. In a statement, the cabinet said: “In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act. Large-scale events involving more than 1000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March."

The show was due to open to the press on Tuesday 3 March before opening to the public from 5-15 March. Around 602,000 people attended the show last year.

Several companies had already changed their plans in the days leading up to the confirmation. Audio firm Harman pulled its stand earlier this week, with EV start-up Byton following suit last night. Autocar understands several firms had expressed concern about the prospect of the show continuing and were in the process of reworking their plans for the event.

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This year's Chinese Grand Prix, due to take place in April, has already been postponed due to the coronavirus, along with other major events outside the automotive world, including a Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy. A number of Italian Serie A football games due to take place this weekend will be played behind closed doors.

Moves to combat the spread of Covid-19 could have a major impact on the car industry beyond the cancellation of Geneva. Car sales in China, which has been worst hit by the virus, have slumped, and there are concerns about the supply of parts from the country, which remains a major manufacturing hub. For example, in its latest financial results, Aston Martin noted that parts supply issues could potentially delay the launch of the DBX SUV.

On Friday, Hyundai was forced to close one of its factories in South Korea, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases outside of China, after a worker tested positive for the virus.

READ MORE

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Chinese GP postponed as coronavirus impact on car industry grows

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Comments
20

28 February 2020

It seems theres more than one my for the Chinese to attack the western car industry

28 February 2020
Attack it by attacking itself?

28 February 2020
eseaton wrote:

Attack it by attacking itself?

Pointless using logic on him - racists arent logical.

28 February 2020

 

Makes sense.

Fewer jollies for motoring journalists, though.

 

28 February 2020
catnip wrote:

 

Makes sense.

Fewer jollies for motoring journalists, though.

 

Fewer jollies perhaps but they'll all have been paid for and given the FO haven't advised against travel to the area, little chance of recouping the trip costs via insurance.

Must be devastating + a financial disaster for everyone concerned. My issue with the whole idea is does not holding the event stop a virus from spreading? The authorities talk a good game and like to see they're being pro-active but... Do they cancel events if someone has the flu because more folk die of the flu.

28 February 2020
scotty5 wrote:
catnip wrote:

 

Makes sense.

Fewer jollies for motoring journalists, though.

 

Fewer jollies perhaps but they'll all have been paid for and given the FO haven't advised against travel to the area, little chance of recouping the trip costs via insurance.

Must be devastating + a financial disaster for everyone concerned. My issue with the whole idea is does not holding the event stop a virus from spreading? The authorities talk a good game and like to see they're being pro-active but... Do they cancel events if someone has the flu because more folk die of the flu.

The thing is we know all about the flu and how to deal with it we ve been doing it for years, COVID-19 is an unknown quantity, I d rather be safe than sorry. In this day and age of fast worldwide air travel its very easy for diseases to spread around the world quickly and theres been many warnings about something like this wiping out millions over the years.

28 February 2020
And we have vaccines for flu, we dont for COVID-19.

28 February 2020
typos1 wrote:

And we have vaccines for flu, we dont for COVID-19.

Typical scaremongering. yes we have vaccines for flu but are you assuming nobody dies from flu? Are you suggesting everyone dies who contracts this virus? There are no vaccines yet those who have the virus are being treated The British bloke who came back from Asia who was supposed to be the 'super carrier' Didn't he get the all clear and was released from hospital?

And as for the other comment " I'd rather be saf " But how is cancelling something like Geneva going to make you safe? I'm sure those who flew to Tenerife the other week thought their only concern would be a sandstorm.

You might be safer if all travel were banned, but the fact is it's not. And when you have people being put on special flights home who's test results are unknown ( jeez, what a cock up that was!) cancelling things like motorshows and rugby games?

It makes the authorities look like they're doing something but the reality is they're not. If you really want to halt any spread then cancel all travel otherwise it's pretty much a waste of time.

28 February 2020
That’s the type of comment that got us into this mess with Corona in the first place. Ignorance kills.

28 February 2020
Not helpful eh. So what are you planning on doing this weekend?

Or let me put it another way. On Monday morning 131,000 people will use London Bridge station. Tens of thousands will walk along Oxford Street. Tens of thousands will shop in Birmingham's Bull Ring. About four hundred passengers will arrive on each train at Glasgow Central. And tourists from all over the world will take it in turns to share a pod all day long on London's Eye.

But for some bloody reason unknow to anyone, cancelling a Rugby match or a car show will somehow help stop the virus. Is Switzerland going to shut down thei airports or stop all public transport? Thought not. To quote Clinton, It's The Economy Stupid.

Ridiculous doesn't even begin to describe it, but as long as the Swiss government or UK Plc are pretend they're taking action, it'll at least satisfy the fools amongst us. If the virus is going to hit then it's going to hit and there's nothing they can do about it, unless of course we invoke travel bans and stop everyone from being in contact with each other.

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