Geneva motor show cancelled for fourth year in a row: is this the end of the road?

Published: 19 August 2022

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The organisers of the Geneva motor show have cancelled the event in 2023, marking the fourth year in a row that Europe’s flagship car show has been canned.

It throws the long-term viability of what was the most prestigious motor show into doubt. At its peak, the Geneva motor show pulled in 600,000 visitors and 10,000 of the world’s media, all drawn to arguably the strongest line-up of world debuts and car launches anywhere in the world.

The organisation behind the Swiss expo, the Comité permanent du Salon international de l’automobile de Genève, blamed the ongoing uncertainty in the automotive sector for the decision to pull the plug on the motor show planned for February 2023.

‘Due to the uncertainties in the global economy and geopolitics, as well as the risks related to the development of the pandemic, the organisers have decided to focus exclusively on the planning of the event in Doha in 2023,’ said president Maurice Turrettini.

The Geneva motor show heads to… Qatar

Organisers had already been planning a spin-off satellite event in Doha. In a move reminiscent of world-tier sports events, they have been lured to the Middle East by the ready availability of funds – even if the move has raised eyebrows among those who question the country’s human rights record.

The Geneva International Motor Show Qatar will be held in November 2023 at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) and at other venues across the city.

‘We have done everything possible to ensure that we could host GIMS 2023 in Geneva in February,’ said Turrettini. ‘The enhanced event format and project had been very well received. But in the end, the risks outweighed the opportunities.’

Geneva motor show was the world's most prestigious

The news casts doubt over whether the show – the biggest public event in Switzerland – will ever bounce back and suggests the fall-out from the pandemic will continue to wreak havoc on the automotive industry for years to come.

Why the Geneva motor show was cancelled in 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023

Show organisers admitted that most manufacturers could not commit to attending in 2023, pulling the rug from under their feet. A combination of Covid, supply-chain shortages, Brexit and changing marketing strategies appear to have scuppered the traditional motor show – forcing car makers to re-examine how they deploy their budgets.

Cancelling the 2020 show cost 11 million Swiss francs (£9m) after the government declared force majeure; state aid has been offered to the Geneva show to the tune of 17m Swiss francs (£14m) but with repayment terms due in June 2021 the organisers have declared it unworkable and are trying to sell the event to the Palexpo exhibition halls where the show is held each spring.

Review of earlier Geneva motor shows

Check out our video round-up of the highlights from the last Geneva motor show to run successfully – the 2019 event:

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words