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Coronavirus: Geneva Motor Show to be cancelled next year and sold off

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - FEBRUARY 28: Exhibitors have to dismantle their displays after cancellation of the Geneva Auto Show on February 28, 2020 in Geneva, Switzerland. Photo: Robert Hradil/Getty Images

The annual Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS), a long-time favourite among carmakers who loved to debut their wildest concepts, has been cancelled for 2021.

"The automotive sector is currently going through a difficult phase, and exhibitors need time to recover from the effects of the pandemic," the Committee and Council of the Salon International de l'Automobile Foundation, which organises the show, said in a statement late Monday.

The Committee said that a majority of carmakers had told it they would “probably not” participate in the 2021 show, and would prefer to have the next show in 2022. 

In 2019, the show pulled in some 600,000 visitors, with 10,000 journalists covering the myriad new car presentations.

The Committee also said that it decided not to take the financial aid offered by the Swiss government, and to put the show’s assets up for sale.

What would have been the 90th edition of the motor show in March this year, was cancelled at the last minute, after the Swiss government deemed it too much of a transmission risk at a time when the coronavirus pandemic was spreading rapidly in neighbouring Italy and across Europe.

The GIMS organisers said they incurred some CHF11m (£9.4m, $11.5m) in costs from the show’s cancellation in March. However, it decided against the state-approved loan of CHF16.8m, because of the terms, and prefers to sell the GIMS event to Palexpo, the company that owns the large exhibition centre where the motor show takes place, next door to Geneva Airport. 

Geneva was just one of the global automotive shows cancelled due to coronavirus this year: China, New York, and Detroit were also shuttered.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic made large gatherings a no-go, automotive companies were increasingly deserting the traditional — and extremely expensive —shows for online or exclusive launch events, where they would not be standing in direct competition with other car brands in a large hall.

In May, the German car industry association announced that the Frankfurt Motor Show would move to Munich next year. Frankfurt, which takes place every two years, was suffering a drop in visitors, and the industry association believed Munich will be a more attractive location; it is also the home of BMW (BMW.DE), and Audi is also based nearby.