So the Geneva show is off for 2021, and perhaps forever more. The show organisers, still coming to financial terms with the cancelling of the 2020 show in March, have already called off next year’s event, given the lukewarm response they had from potential exhibitors to the prospect of a 2021 edition.
And with the organisers now trying to sell the show to the Palexpo venue in which it is held, it’s very hard to see the stars aligning to allow it to make a comeback in a recognisable form in 2022, either.
Budgets will have been written without Geneva in it from car makers exhibiting there, and given most European motor shows have more sitting in the ‘out’ column than the ‘in’, the prospect of forking out the millions needed to display again at a time when belts will still need to be tightened as a result of the pandemic will not be an appealing one.
Cost-wise, it’s not as simple as building a stand: it’s the staffing of that stand for two weeks or more, and all the hotel, travel and subsistence costs that come with that, as well as all the literature to hand out and the cost of transporting said stand and vehicles to populate it.
And displaying at a motor show is always a hard thing to put a return on investment on, given they’re largely a PR and marketing exercise outside of ‘selling’ shows in China and the US, where car buyers do still tend to buy rather than browse.
Geneva’s passing is to be lamented. It’s a great start to the motoring calendar. Its early March date allows the first two months of the year to be filled with news of the new cars we’ll be seeing at the show, and driving soon after.
The Swiss venue is a neutral one, so there’s none of the home favouritism you see at other shows, and car makers are given the chance of equal space and branding. It has traditionally been the best attended show, too, although that was on the wane even before the pandemic because questions were being asked about the motor show’s role in the future as perhaps one of the industry’s more archaic concepts.