Is the Motor Show Dead?
A couple of weeks ago news broke that the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) 2022 has been cancelled, following its cancellation in 2021 and 2020. The big question is – does anyone care, and does it really matter these days?
As someone who has been to GIMS every year since 2014 on Press Day, I absolutely love the show. It’s conveniently right next to Geneva Airport so should you desire, you can fly in, do the whole show and fly home in a single day. It’s also relatively compact, split over two (large) main halls, so you can easily get around and see everything. A stark contrast to the Frankfurt Motor Show where walking between the two furthest stands is about 14 miles.
So after it being cancelled due to Covid19, I was really looking forward to the 2022 show when the date was announced last year, for the potential new releases and for the chance to catch up with old friends as was always the way. But then the dread set in – trying to find a hotel (as I prefer to spread it over a couple of days now) is absolute hell. Anything within a couple of miles of the show is fully booked already by manufacturers and every type of place to stay from hotels to AirBnB to campsites and even hostels hike their prices to absurd levels for the press days. For reference, a night in the local IBIS is around £100 usually – on press days that’s £500 minimum.
Anyway, first world problems and all that. I was going for the spectacle and the networking, along with the ability to capture all the new releases at the same time. For Joe Public it’s a different matter – why should they be bothered by the cancellation? Given the falling numbers of attendance in the preceding years (pre-Covid) the spectacle was certainly losing interest. The main reason behind this year’s cancellation was manufacturer based, with lots of new models not being released due to chip shortages and of course, Covid delays. But things have been rocky for a long time. The Frankfurt Show was moved to Munich this year due to falling attendance and it was closer to the main German manufacturers, but it was still far less popular than previous years. So why are people shying away from the traditional Motor Show?
My thoughts are that with the digital age, everyone is looking at screens all day every day, we can get our new car launches streamed to our phones whenever we want, we get high-resolution images and 4K video instantly and if we want to drive the new car we have to wait until it’s at a dealership and get a test drive – which is what you had to do when you saw it at a motor show too. You couldn’t drive the cars there or even see them moving, so what was really the point? And I think this is the big reason – the traditional Motor Show simply hadn’t moved with the times and is now all but dead. The advent of our ‘new normal’ where people aren’t travelling as much and are still wary of big crowds etc is only compounding this.
Of course, you’ll notice my use of the term ‘traditional Motor Show’ – that’s because the Motor Show certainly still exists in the UK, but it’s now in the form of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. A huge, sprawling event over a long weekend, set in glorious rolling hills, usually with wondrously warm sunny weather. Manufacturers all attend with huge stands, new cars are launched, but the key thing is that these new cars can all be seen driving up the hill, tyres smoking, sideways and screaming. It’s exciting, you get immersed in the experience and it’s a million miles away from the stuffy motor show halls. The FoS 2022 is going to be even bigger and more impressive, I’d go as far as to say it’s the best motoring event in the world right now, there’s nothing really like it anywhere which is why you see people attending from around the world.
So, is the motor show dead? Yes and no. In the traditional sense, yes – I seriously doubt we’ll see a Geneva Motor Show in 2023 and there will likely be smaller, niche shows for trends of car rather than the big shows of old. People just aren’t interested. The other aspect is of course costs – Goodwood stands may cost a bit, but that’s nothing compared to the millions of Euros that manufacturers spent on stands for motor shows, every year. They would much rather do an online reveal in a nice location, invite some press along and Joe Public can see lovely HD images within a few hours, as that costs a fraction of a show stand. Better to do that and Goodwood to give the public what they want.
So the Motor Show is dead – long live the Motor Show!