By on February 27, 2020

Automakers are reassessing the number of employees they’re willing to send to next week’s Geneva International Motor Show. While plenty are simply exercising their right to snub the show, with over a dozen giving advance notice that they will not be in attendance, others are reconsidering what’s prudent as a viral outbreak grows in Europe. Overall, the industry is scaling back on the number of people it feels comfortable sending to the show.

New coronavirus cases in Switzerland have left some worried that the trade event will be cancelled at the last minute.

“The coronavirus public health crisis alone puts a big question-mark next to this year’s show,” David Leggett, automotive editor at data and analytics specialists GlobalData, told The Telegraph this week.

On Thursday, Toyota said it plans to send only business-critical staff to Geneva, specifically those responsible for operations in Europe and nobody else. Volkswagen Group also plans to send only those deemed mission critical, according to Automotive News — and that’s just for starters. 

From AN:

Chinese automaker Aiways said it has been unable to ship the U6ion electric crossover coupe concept to Geneva in time for its planned press conference at the show on Tuesday.

Aiways said the production-ready European version of its U5 electric crossover will be at the show. European deliveries of the U5 are planned to start in August.

The CEOs of Ferrari and brake maker Brembo will not attend planned press events at the show, with Brembo citing the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, where 12 people have died from the virus.

Brembo, which is based in Lombardy, the worst affected area in Italy, postponed a press breakfast planned on Wednesday. Brembo’s stand in Geneva will be managed by U.S. and Swiss company representatives, the company said.

It’s assumed the list of staff exceptions will only get longer as the event draws closer, though at the moment no one is talking about canceling the show — at least not anyone with the power to do so. For its part, Switzerland is telling people to exercise caution, saying that conditions could change at any time. It has not suggested closing any public gatherings just yet. Meanwhile, event organizers and participating industry players are handing out face masks and hand sanitizer.

With at least one person already confirmed with COVID-19 in Geneva, the big fear is that thousands of automotive employees and journalists from around the world will meet, cough on each other, then take whatever newfangled disease they’ve picked up back to their homeland. But there’s a lot of money on the table already, with no real way to recoup losses if the event is cancelled.

Of course, even if Geneva moves ahead as planned, it’ll still be a quieter show than usual. Loads of executives are already bowing out, journalist attendance is expected to be low, and some companies have been unable to transport product from Asia due to the virus. General attendance is also expected to be down once press days wrap up. Part of that is bound to be due to the show catering toward high-end products and EVs — which may soon become one and the same, as Europe’s stringent environmental regulations have basically forced the industry to pivot toward battery-driven models.

GlobalData’s Leggett claims the show’s “falling visitor numbers suggest that enthusiasts and potential car buyers are less inclined to attend.” Still, plenty of folks who don’t have to hit up the event for work will undoubtedly stay home as a precautionary measure. Assuming you don’t mind wearing a hazmat suit and looking over countless electric concepts, Geneva should be a pretty laid-back environment this year.

[Image: GIMS]

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