Lack of space becomes permanent

Lack of space becomes permanent

For the committee of the Geneva Show, which also became a favorite of the press during this period, the 1960s meant above all that the event was once again bursting at the seams. Since the end of the war, the exhibition area has been constantly extended, so that in 1961 the passenger cars occupied the entire Palais des Expositions for the first time. Nevertheless remained place-. Infrastructural problems the perennial. In 1963, the committee therefore decided to hold the truck show every two years, therefore the cars and accessories could occupy the entire exhibition space. But the problem was only postponed for one year, then the biennial cycle took effect. Since 1970, car show and commercial vehicle and boat show are finally separated.

In 1966, the Salon was therefore first held in three complexes: In the Palais des Expositions with passenger cars and bodywork companies, in the wooden halls with trucks, tractors and construction machinery, and in the inflatable hall with workshop equipment and other accessories, which was introduced in 1964. By the end of the 1960s, however, professionals and visitors alike were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the exhibition conditions at this prestigious show: the construction of a new exhibition site with a much larger area, easier access and better parking facilities was imperative if the Geneva Motor Show was to retain its good reputation.

In 1968, the Canton of Geneva acquired 18 hectares of land near the airport in Grand-Saconnex to build the new Palais des Expositions, the "Palexpo", together with the Salon. Because some of the Salon's profits have been returned to the exhibitors since 1953, the Salon Foundation was able to help finance the new building by reducing these payments. But that's all that happened for the time being: the start of construction was delayed until 1977 because various citizens' initiatives lodged an objection to the new building.

The 1970s were marked by the oil crisis, saturated Western markets and industrial restructuring. Rolls-Royce, for example, even had to file for bankruptcy. So the golden age was over for the manufacturers for the time being. Reason cars were in high demand among consumers in the face of scarce and expensive resources, pollution became an issue. Thus, a kind of diesel boom emerged: While Mercedes-Benz had been almost alone in pursuing the compression-ignition idea in passenger cars until then, more and more manufacturers were now turning to the fuel-efficient alternative.

"Our Mercedes cars are occasionally even judged by the American industry as benchmarks and considered prototypes of an economically reasonable scale, luxury economic small cars", said Daimler-Benz Board of Management member Heinz Schmidt to members of the press at the Geneva Motor Show in 1975. "If today factors such as durability, safety and comfort count for more in automobiles than pseudo-sportiness or fashionable gimmicks, then Daimler-Benz only sees itself confirmed in its previous principles."

In the 1980s, a second oil crisis shook the world economy. The emission standards were tightened, and the Japanese manufacturers brought the European and American competitors more and more into trouble.

But on the 18. December 1981, the Geneva Motor Show had first overcome its biggest handicap, the lack of space: the 145 million Swiss franc Palexpo was inaugurated on that day with a big celebration. The new, 38,000-square-meter Geneva Exhibition Center passed its baptism of fire with the Commercial Vehicle Show at the end of January 1982.

The 1982 Motor Show was also a resounding success, even if it soon became apparent that there were too few parking spaces available for the crowds, especially at weekends. By 1985, the new Palexpo was again too small for the Motor Show and the Commercial Vehicles Exhibition, so the decision was made to build an additional 16,000 square meter hall. This Hall 5, usable from 1987 onwards, prompted the journalists of "Équipe" to make the somewhat exaggerated remark that Geneva was demoting Paris and Frankfurt to provincial status, and Tokyo to municipal status. But it was not until the additional halls were added in 1995 and 2003, finally providing Geneva with an exhibition area of almost 77,000 square meters, that the Salon became comparable with the space available at other trade fairs. But still no comparison with Frankfurt: at the IAA, the world's largest motor show, the exhibition area in 2005 was around 225,000 square meters.

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