2021 Geneva Motor Show is not gonna happen
Bad news? Good news? I'm not even sure
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and also a pointless exercise because it doesn't change reality. There's no point talking about what could've been done because as it happened, the cancellation of 2020 Geneva Motor Show was a mess, beginning to end.
Tim Meyer on Unsplash
The Foundation "Salon International de l'Automobile" waited until the last minute to cancel the show, which resulted into a logistical nightmare because some manufacturers were literally on their way, while others were already in Geneva. They did it because they wanted to wait for the Canton of Geneva, the equivalent of a US State, to make a political decision and cancel the event. It was both a good idea and a terrible one. It was smart, because if you wait for the local authorities to greenlight or cancel your event, you're delegating responsibilities, thus putting yourself in a better position for the inevitable stream of lawsuits. It was terrible because it was clear that the situation was far from ideal, many countries including nearby Italy were already in trouble with the number of confirmed cases going up, which means that every moment they waited made it worse for everyone involved. Either way, that's what happened and the result was predictable: it made everyone angry.
The GIMS (Geneva International Motor Show) is the largest public event in Switzerland, by a considerable margin as well, attracting over 600,000 visitors every year and the organizers asked the Canton of Geneva for a loan to cover the costs and face the financial aftermath of the cancellation. Three weeks ago, the Grand Council of the Canton approved a loan for 16.8 million Swiss francs ($17.6m / £14.4m) on the condition that Foundation makes a repayment of 1 million Swiss francs before June 2021 and that they organize a new event for 2021. This, according to the Foundation, and they're right, is nigh on impossible because there's no way for the foundation to cover the costs, organize a new show and generate any income between here and then. Which is why they said no.
Tim Meyer on Unsplash
Both the foundation and the Canton are between a rock and a hard place. Mistakes were made, no doubt, and they were also unlucky, but that doesn't change the fact that car manufacturers rightfully want their money back, and some of them are in a bad financial situation, and the vast majority of them realized they could easily survive without the show. Some, like Volvo and Lambo, have made it quite clear that they don't plan on attending any international event any time soon. The truth is, even before Covid, Geneva was the last standing giant among the big car shows because the format is obsolete and these show cost manufacturers a fortune.
Walking around big warehouse-like halls to look at cars is something people don't care about anymore. Fans would rather see the cars in the open, preferably for free. Manufacturers would rather organize their own events, tailor made to target prospective customers who might actually buy their cars. And the media? Well, they're going to do what they've always been doing: follow the freebies and the free booze. And Geneva wasn't big on that either.