That’s it, then, the end of an era. For the fourth year in a row, the Geneva motor show has been cancelled, and surely it is now unlikely ever to return as anything befitting this once great industry highlight.
The 2020 show was cancelled at the last minute due to Covid at a time when we didn’t know just how quickly our worlds were going to change.
And, as many sources claim, the way the show organisers handled the financial fallout from this in dealing with car manufacturers left a bad taste that still lingers. The tone-deaf chord struck was always going to be a likely insurmountable stumbling block in trying to bring it back once more.
Covid meant the 2021 show was a non-starter, 2022 too with hindsight, given the Omicron wave of the virus that ground Europe to a brief halt once more. But there it was, back on the calendar for next February – until today, when the axe fell, the show organisers citing manufacturers unwilling to commit to “a show in Europe in winter”, which is a long-winded way of saying car makers were not willing to commit to the Geneva motor show itself.
Yet Geneva will live on in 2023, as the Geneva motor show in… Qatar. This idea all sounded a bit April Fool’s when it was first announced last year as a version of the show to sit alongside the main Swiss one, yet the idea persists, a large tie-up with Qatar Tourism to bring the show to Doha in November. Time hasn’t made the idea seem any better, and quite how the Geneva show in Qatar (don’t call it the Qatar motor show) will succeed where the Geneva show in Geneva couldn’t is unknown. Must be quite the sponsorship deal.
I’m sad to see Geneva go, as are all my colleagues. It was the best motor show, with the most car makers in the smallest footprint, meaning there were great stories, cars and access to industry heavyweights wherever you went. It was at a great time of year, too, and the neutral location meant that no one country’s domestic car makers could dominate the space.
The show organisers will say it’s just taking another year off, and they’ll try again in 2024. In reality, the last rites have been read, and the world’s best motor show isn’t coming back. Sad.