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The future of auto shows : Coronavirus and the auto industry

Written By | Mar 10, 2020
auto shows, quarantine, coronavirus, lauren fix, car coach

Buffalo, NY — With the CoronaVirus cancellation of the Geneva Auto Show, what will the future of auto shows look like? Will they exist? We take a deeper look at the high costs of auto shows and their impact on brands, media, and consumers. Our guest, Paul Brian, is not only the co-host on His Turn – Her Turn show but also has 20 years of experience running the Chicago Auto Show, a lifetime of radio, television and automotive experience.

He suggests that auto shows are impacted by the “Butterfly Effect”, meaning that cancellation of one show and the talking amongst the media and consumer about other shows, could lead to other cancellations based on fear of the virus and not facts. At this point, the general media has fully invested in Coronavirus as both exciting and able to drive new viewers by scaring them. They’re quite good at their jobs, you know. The financial impact can truly damage multiple industries for many years.

Why the Geneva Auto Show matters:

Geneva is one of the “beauty contest” shows where many of the automotive design houses pull the curtain back on some of their wildest offerings, but more reserved-in-design, yet important-from-a-business-standpoint offerings from global automakers also unveil significant production models.

The Geneva Auto Show organizers initially said they were going to press forward with the expo, but gave themselves an out by stating they would closely monitor the situation and act accordingly. As it turns out, the Swiss government made the decision, banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people. But the money to move into the Palexpo center was already spent — and now lost. Shows have traditionally served as an important means of connecting with the public. They’re also expensive. Very expensive.


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So when the Geneva show was canceled just a few days before it was to stage its media preview, the question shifted to how the OEMs would react. Because Geneva was canceled, it left the automakers to unveil their cars primarily via live webcasts from their own home offices around the world. More than 50 reveals were scheduled for the Swiss event.

Even a mere decade ago, the impact would have been far more disastrous. Why? Simple: The internet. Streaming. Targeting and directly approaching journalists to “attend” their unveilings from the comfort of their home or office by simply clicking into it. The cancellation of Geneva was not just a harbinger of things to come in how vehicles are to be presented, but it put a brick on the accelerator pedal of a trend that was already in motion.

The future of auto shows?

Will this change auto shows forever? Thus remains to be seen. The very large budgets could be redirected to other areas to increase sales and exposure. The auto show model is changing. The ability to stage a product introduction anywhere, any time, and to very specific, targeted audiences has changed forever.

Factory support for larger-scale shows such as Detroit, LA, NY, Chicago, etc will dwindle and more cars-on-carpet shows for consumers will remain for the time being, but organizers will need to respond to the changes as Detroit has.
Watch the interview to get more insight.

Lauren Fix Website

Lauren Fix

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news and safety issues.