Geneva Motor Show canceled due to corona virus: do manufacturers still need car shows?
The coronavirus has reached the automotive industry. Due to the risk of contagion at major events, the Geneva Motor Show, one of the world's largest auto shows, is cancelled. The cancellation came at short notice. For manufacturers, this is a bitter blow – especially financially: because large parts of the trade show were already set up. They reach many customers anyway: In online videos they present their cars the digital way.This leads to the question: Do manufacturers still need car shows at all – or does online showcasing work just as well?Emil Nefzger, DER SPIEGEL: "The importance of car shows for manufacturers continues to decline. The best indicator is probably simply the number of visitors, for example, if you look at the IAA, the most important German car show. There came in 2015 still over 900.000 visitors, in 2019 still 560.000. These trade shows are also expensive for manufacturers. I have to pay the booth fee. You could also see that the manufacturers are constantly reducing the size of their stands. I have to bring all the material and my staff there. The hotel costs are of course also significantly higher at these fairs than they would otherwise be in these cities. And that means for the manufacturers: Every euro you invest in it actually becomes less and less attractive, because fewer and fewer people come."And so even major manufacturers are increasingly cancelling their participation in trade shows. In Geneva, Opel, Peugeot, Volvo and Lamborghini, among others, would not have been there – although there are still advantages to actually being present at a show.Emil Nefzger, DER SPIEGEL: "Of course, trade shows are important for an industry like this. They are an event for the relationships of the manufacturers. For German manufacturers, the IAA is an important event to get in touch with politics. The Chancellor visits the stands of the manufacturers, at the same time the manufacturers can get in contact with the press representatives in a collected way, one can arrange interview appointments. And car fans can come into direct contact with the cars. In real life, it is different to see a car, to estimate the dimensions, than to do it on the screen. And maybe the customers discover cars from a brand they would not have otherwise had on their mind, which would have simply escaped them. But there, because one passes a pavilion of a brand, one just looks at it."But exactly this abundance, this concentration of competition has on the other hand also disadvantages. For the customers there is a huge offer. The risk of a potential buyer being distracted by another producer is great.Emil Nefzger, DER SPIEGEL: "There are a lot of other manufacturers at the show who might have nicer, better, bigger booths, who just happen to have the more exciting concept car that draws people away from my booth. Of course, it's actually smarter for me to do a single event where everyone has to focus on me, where I can also choose the timing. And that's also what the manufacturers are doing more and more, trying to celebrate their own individual premieres, so to speak, which they invite to such an event. Tesla, for example, has perfected it. Tesla manages to do insanely well with their own premieres that they hold where Elon Musk introduces the new car, like z.B. At the cyber truck to charge that insanely and interact insanely well with people online as well. And of course the other producers want to do the same.And so it remains questionable whether car shows are really still a concept for the future – even if the corona virus danger has been banished again. Manufacturers place their concept car in console games like Gran Turismo. Come thereby with their fans in contact. There are so many new options, even away from social media, that I can take advantage of, which are also cheaper than going to such a fair specially. From that I would say that the car shows are definitely facing a decline and if they are, they are only measuring on a few focal points. So we are concentrating mainly on the Geneva Motor Show, although of course we now have to wait and see how this will continue to develop. And to the auto show in China will be the largest market is still available.