Much Quieter Geneva Motor Show Expected for 2020

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Feb 27, 2020

    The real litmus test for this Coronavirus outbreak and its impact, will be the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Feb 27, 2020

    Sending "mission critical" staff to an auto show is an oxymoron, since there hasn't been anything mission critical about an auto show in decades.

  • Calrson Fan Jeff - Agree with what you said. I think currently an EV pick-up could work in a commercial/fleet application. As someone on this site stated, w/current tech. battery vehicles just do not scale well. EBFlex - No one wanted to hate the Cyber Truck more than me but I can't ignore all the new technology and innovative thinking that went into it. There is a lot I like about it. GM, Ford & Ram should incorporate some it's design cues into their ICE trucks.
  • Michael S6 Very confusing if the move is permanent or temporary.
  • Jrhurren Worked in Detroit 18 years, live 20 minutes away. Ren Cen is a gem, but a very terrible design inside. I’m surprised GM stuck it out as long as they did there.
  • Carson D I thought that this was going to be a comparison of BFGoodrich's different truck tires.
  • Tassos Jong-iL North Korea is saving pokemon cards and amibos to buy GM in 10 years, we hope.