By on February 28, 2020

The Swiss city of Geneva will not see crowds of international visitors descend on the continent’s premier auto show next week. Instead, ticket holders will stay home, waiting for a refund, while automakers swallow their losses.

Blame lies on the country’s government, which on Friday banned gatherings of 1,000 people or more in the face of a growing viral epidemic.

As reported by The Guardian, the Swiss cabinet passed the ban as an emergency measure. Some 15 cases of coronavirus (aka COVID-19) have appeared in the country, including some in the city of Geneva.

The city lies not too far from a coronavirus hot spot in northern Italy.

“In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the federal council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act,”, the Swiss cabinet said Friday. The ban on large events is immediate, running until “at least” March 15th. In its 90th year, the Geneva Motor Show was to open to journalists and industry brass on March 2nd and wrap up public viewings on the 15th.

Automakers were paring back attendees in the days leading up to the announcement, preparing to send only business-critical employees to the show to limit exposure to — and spread of — the virus. Last year, the show attracted roughly 600,000 visitors to the city.

While ticket holders will be refunded, automakers’ fees will not. The organizing body expects a $2.2 million loss.

“We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority,” said Maurice Turrettini, the chairman of the show’s board. “This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision.”

Automakers will now have to find another way to reveal their newest products. A flurry of debuts had been scheduled for March 3rd.

World markets reacted violently to the growing global outbreak on Thursday, with the Dow plunging 1,200 points. It fell another 1,000 points in early Friday trading, contributing to a global loss of $5 trillion. As it stands, this week has been the market’s worst since the onset of the Great Recession.

Throughout the auto industry, worries about further supply chain disruption, idled plants, and a worse-then-projected sales year are, like cases of coronavirus, on the rise.

[Image: GIMS]

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3 Comments on “Swiss Government Puts Kibosh on Geneva Motor Show...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My comment yesterday was about auto shows:

    But now I realize the true value of such shows:
    “Last year, the show attracted roughly 600,000 visitors to the city.”

    It has little benefit for the mfrs (which is why fewer participate each year); it’s all about vendor revenue.

  • avatar

    “Last year, the show attracted roughly 600,000 visitors to the city.”

    That is a huge tourism loss greatly affecting the economy.

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