Amazing and haunting images have emerged from the 2020 Geneva Motor Show, where teams are busy dismantling an almost-complete auto show just four days ahead of its planned opening.
The 90th iteration of the Geneva Motor Show was cancelled after Swiss authorities outlawed public gatherings of more than 1000 people in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to Switzerland and northern Italy.
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Geneva's show is associated with prestige brands and wild concept cars, and this year - despite a lower-than-usual roster of brands - looked to be following suit.
The stillborn motor show
Organisers suggest that there is no way that the show can be rescheduled, which means that car companies have no option but to rip up the expansive - and expensive - stands created for the event.
The enormous cost of a show stand
A typical show stand for a large brand like Volkswagen will be created largely from scratch around a certain theme or model; in VW's case, the Golf GTI.
UK photographer George William walked the halls after the announcement
It's almost impossible to put a monetary figure on the cost of a typical stand. Not only is there the physical attributes like flooring, lighting, rotundas and static displays, but there is also the cost of elements like catering, staff wages for both VW employees and casual labour, the cost of marketing materials and campaigns, flights and accommodation for staff and guests, transportation of show vehicles and more.
Over the course of a two-week event, costs would comfortably exceed $10 million across VW's various brands.
What the Geneva Show cancellation means
What does the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show mean for the wider automotive industry? While attendees will look to insurance and to organisers to try and recover some of the costs incurred, it will be a blow to the hip pocket for many car brands questioning the viability of the current motor show format.
Of course, it all pales into insignificance if the coronavirus outbreak turns into something nastier. A global pandemic has the ability to severely dent the bottom line of car brands the world over through the loss of manufacturing ability - small part shipments from China, for example, are already crippling production lines around the world.
As well, car buyers need no more excuses to stay away from showrooms at present, with the industry recording flat or negative growth in almost every segment and market around the globe.
The press release from the organisers
The 90th edition of the GIMS, which was supposed to welcome the media from next Monday and the general public from 5 to 15 March 2020, will now finally not take place. This is an injunction decision of the Federal Council of 28 February 2020 that no events with more than 1,000 people are allowed to take place until 15 March 2020. The decision falls 3 days before the opening of the exhibition to the media.
The organizers accept this decision: "We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors' top priority. This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision," said Maurice Turrettini, Chairman of the Foundation Board. We would like to warmly thank all those involved in the organisation of the 2020 edition of GIMS.
A few days before the opening of the event, the construction of the stands was very nearly complete. A week ago, during the press conferences announcing the 2020 edition, there was nothing to suggest that such a measure was necessary. The situation changed with the appearance of the first confirmed coronavirus diseases in Switzerland and the injunction of the Federal Council on 28.02.2020. The event is cancelled due to this decision.
In the meantime, the dismantling of the event will now have to be organised. The financial consequences for all those involved in the event are significant and will need to be assessed over the coming weeks. One thing is certain: tickets already purchased for the event will be refunded. The organisers will communicate about this as soon as possible, via their website.