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Coronavirus impacts Beijing Motor Show

By David Bonnici, 18 Feb 2020 Car News

Coronavirus impacts Beijing Motor Show

The deadly #COVID19 epidemic could not have come at a worse time for China's massive automotive industry

The 2020 Beijing Motor Show (Auto China 2020) is China's latest major international motoring event to be shelved or cancelled, following the announcement that the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix in Shanghai has been postponed and will likely be cancelled.

The postponement of Auto China comes despite the resumption of vehicle production in the stricken country after the virus forced the extension of its Lunar New Year holiday.

Haval Shanghai Motor Show

"To ensure the health and safety of exhibitors and participants, we, on behalf of the Organizing Committee of the 2020 (16th) Beijing International Automobile Exhibition, have decided to postpone the event which was initially scheduled at the new and old venues of China International Exhibition Center (CIEC) in Beijing from April 21 to 30 this year,” organisers said in a statement posted on the Show’s website. “The rescheduled date will be notified separately.”

As well as the health considerations, the delaying of such events was made necessary by travel bans and suspension of international flights to and from China from a number of countries.

Corona virus beijing
[Getty Images]

Auto China, which alternates between Beijing and Shanghai each year, has become one of the world’s most significant motoring showcases attracting about 800,000 patrons each year, including roughly 6000 international visitors.

READ NEXT: Has China figured out how to build a cool SUV?

It postponement represents a significant blow to the world’s biggest new car market, which plummeted 18 percent in January due to the #COVID19 coronavirus epidemic that's expected to see half-yearly sales fall by 10-percent.

The slump adds to two years of steady decline in China's new car market, which had previously enjoyed two decades of sustained growth.

Beijing empty streets coronavirus
The coronavirus' impact on Beijing is evident on its unusually quiet roads. [Getty Images] 

While #COVID19 is also expected to impact events in other countries, next month’s Geneva Motor Show is so far scheduled to go ahead as planned, with organisers saying they are monitoring the situation and in constant discussion with medical advisers. At this stage no exhibitors have pulled out of the event.

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Meanwhile, there are doubts that the postponed Formula 1 race in Shanghai will not be able to be rescheduled into the hectic eight-month season.

Shanghai F1 Grand Prix
[Getty Images]

Like the Auto China 2020, the race was due to run in April but was postponed at the behest of the local event organiser the Juss Group as coronavirus cases continued to spread in the city.

READ MORE: Formula 1 releases radical changes for 2021

F1 might miss out on a A$50 million cash injection if the race is cancelled due to an 'act of God' which includes an epidemic, absolving the Juss Group from its obligation to pay the licence fee.