Ask anyone who works the international auto show circuit and you’ll likely get the same answer over and over again. The annual Geneva Motor Show seems to be just about everyone’s perennial favorite.
For newshounds, the event can be grueling to cover, considering there’s a news conference roughly every 15 minutes, from dawn to dusk, and you’ll jostle with thousands of colleagues for a good view and a better camera angle. But you’ll get a flood of news, especially if you’re sharp at spotting the assorted industry leaders who make their annual pre-Spring pilgrimage to Geneva’s PalExpo convention center.
Indeed, it’s a great place for executives, analysts and, well, just about anyone with a stake in the business to come together, formally or not. Wander the show’s crowded aisles and you might just spot Daimler CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche grabbing a few moments with his erstwhile rival, BMW Chief Norbert Reithofer. And even the highest-ranking executives seemed a little star-struck when the “Governator,” California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, wandered into PalExpo Wednesday morning, presumably on his own nickel and not California’s taxpayers.
Yet for many of us in the media, one of the most intriguing features of the Geneva Motor Show is the collection of unusual, and sometimes downright oddball automakers who share floor space with more mainstream manufacturers, such as Mercedes, Opel, Renault and Toyota.
Considering its national history – and with no major manufacturer of its own – the Swiss show is considered neutral territory, where anyone with the dollars to set up a stand can find space, and some of the strangest brands grab some of the most valuable real estate.
A few names are fairly well known to automotive aficionados, like the design house, Pininfarina, which brought its Bollore Concept to the ’09 Geneva show. The event is a good way not only to get its name out to the public, but to remind industry executives that it’s ready to lend its design magic to their products.