Funny old motor show is Barcelona. The setting is quite stunning; it’s right in the heart of the city’s historic centre and instead of the usual faceless NEC-style halls, Barcelona’s are dotted all over the place so you’re able to soak in the scenery and sunshine walking between them.
But as I write this at 1pm local time on the first press day of the show, I’m one of the few remaining journalists left here. Everyone’s already gone home.
Newsworthy events can be counted on one hand. The only new car is Hyundai’s handsome new i40 saloon and even Seat hasn’t got any new cars to show at its home event.
And you only have to go back a fortnight to realise why it’s so quiet here – Shanghai. China’s annual show is arguably now the world’s most important and major European manufacturers flocked to show new metal there.
Western Europe just can’t sustain so many shows anymore, likewise North America. At Autocar, like much of the industry, we were baffled to see New York’s show in the same week as Shanghai’s. One’s going to have to give, and you don’t need a rocket science degree to work out which one…
So where does this leave the British motor show? We haven’t seen one since 2008, and I’d be amazed if we ever saw one return again if Barcelona’s example is anything to go by. At least Barcelona has managed to attract the big German brands, something Britain
Goodwood is the best example of a show innovating to become relevant and modern and Barcelona and Europe’s other second tier show venues, including Britain, need to do something similar if manufacturers are going to keep turning up.
At the minute, Barcelona’s only real selling point is being able to get up so close to the cars recently revealed in Geneva and Shanghai as you’re not competing with a crowd. Somehow, I don’t think that’s an advertising slogan the Barcelona motor show will be adopting.