It’s been said that “the show must go on,” and so it seems will be the case with the Geneva International Motor Show.
There’s been a worldwide rush to cancel or delay major conferences, sporting events and other public gatherings as the coronavirus outbreak accelerates. Among the events called off, organizers of the Geneva show last week said the annual gathering has been banned by Swiss authorities.
That was expected to cause some serious headaches for automakers that not only hoped to use the show to boost sales in a stuttering market but also as a backdrop for the debut of scores of new cars, trucks and crossovers. So, instead of scrubbing the show entirely, Geneva organizers have come up with an online alternative.
“Despite the cancellation of the 90th edition of the GIMS, the organizers have decided to offer to the public, fans and the media – partly live – the streaming of the press conferences and presentations of the world premieres organized by the manufacturers in different locations,” show organizers said in a statement Monday morning.
Members of the media, as well as the public, will be able to plug in here to watch the various debuts that were originally scheduled to take place at the Palexpo convention center starting at 8 a.m CET, or 2 a.m. EST.
It’s unclear where the various media presentations will physically take place. As of last Friday, several automakers told TheDetroitBureau.com that they already had staff on site at the convention center preparing to move vehicles and break down their stands.
Traditionally the first big European auto show of the year, Geneva was expected to attract journalists from around the world for a two-day media preview starting on the morning of March 3. The public days were to run from March 5-15 and were expected to draw as many as 700,000 visitors to Palexpo.
The Swiss government last week issued an edict that no event involving more than 100 people in a single location could proceed through at least mid-March.
“This comes as a preventative measure in response to the coronavirus epidemic raging in Europe and now in Switzerland,” Maurice Turrettini, chairman of the board operating the Geneva auto show, said in a video statement.
Some automakers had already raised the prospect of canceling their own involvement in the show as coronavirus cases started popping up across Europe, including Switzerland.
“Bentley welcomes the decision of the Geneva State Council to cancel this year’s Geneva Motor Show,” the company said in a statement. “This is a decision in the interests of the health and safety of all participants and our colleagues.”
Bentley on Monday confirmed it will be one of the many automakers now holding a livestream news conference. Other manufacturers turning to the Internet include Audi, BMW, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, as well as suppliers such as Goodyear.
All told, the original media preview had 67 events on the schedule. Some manufacturers, including Fiat Chrysler, had not yet confirmed whether they will participate or hold previews at a later date.