I am beginning to wonder if things are getting a bit out of balance. As other major motor events show signs of starting to struggle – remember Ford didn’t even turn up in Paris last year and January’s Detroit was the thinnest I can recall – Geneva is this year more than ever an embarrassment of riches. Everyone who is anyone it seems, is launching something new and special here.
Just look at the list of supercars for starters: there is the Ferrari 812 Superfast and McLaren's new Super Series model, the 720S. Lamborghini is bringing the Nürburgring record-wrecking, Porsche the next 911 GT3. And Mercedes has an all new Panamera-rivalling bespoke AMG Concept. There’s also more accessible, no less interesting metal from the all-new Alpine A110 to the Range Rover Velar via the next Honda Civic Type R.
So, why do most manufacturers feel compelled to wheel out their best stuff in Geneva? There are a few reasons, including the fact that it lies right at the heart of the European car industry yet sits on neutral ground. Geneva itself is glamorous so glamorous products sit well in such surroundings and the show is exactly the right size: big enough to pack everything in, sufficiently small not to be daunting. Also, you’ll never find a greater density of those communicating tools commonly known as automotive journalists anywhere else in the world.
But so too does Geneva have problems, for car manufacturers and said hacks alike. For editors of traditional print products, it's a nightmare, because he or she will have to choose between seven or eight stories that at any other time of year might expect to have the cover almost to itself. Inside the magazine, stories that might normally deserve to have pages thrown at them can be relegated to a few paragraphs, just so everything can get squeezed in.
Digital media is less restricted but still faces the fact that the more stories are thrown online in one day, the less likely is each story to be read in such numbers or to such depth as it might reasonably hope at any other time of year.
For the manufacturers, this means less coverage per vehicle unveiling, not more, so they have to balance that against the undeniable positives of coming to Geneva outlined above. But I think the secret truth is it’s all about prestige: just as Frankfurt has turned into an enormous mine’s-bigger-than-yours competition among the German domestic brands to see who can rent the largest hall, so too is Geneva not only the show at which you must be seen, it is the show at which you also must be seen showing cool stuff.