Car Culture

Why The Geneva Motor Show Is The Most Important Show Of The Year

The 2018 show could be the most important to date.

For automotive enthusiasts, the annual show calendar is filled with anticipation. From the USDM offerings in Detroit to the wild tuner fantasies on display in Tokyo and at SEMA, there’s something for everyone. But above all of these, there are two that stand out. Geneva and Frankfurt have built on more than 100 years of displaying more cars, newer cars, and better concepts than anyone else. But Geneva is possibly the most important of the two – and in the midst of a change in the way we see mobility, the 2018 edition could be the most important to date.

A Brief History of Neutrality and Innovation Since its inauguration back in 1905, the Geneva Motor Show has been committed to displaying the automobile, claiming to have hosted almost all important combustion powered vehicle models since the beginning of the 20th century. This has included a variety of alternatively fueled vehicles, including those driven by steam and benzene. What makes the Geneva Motor Show even more interesting though, is that Switzerland has no motor industry of its own. In true Swiss fashion, this makes them neutral ground upon which all the world’s manufacturers can gather.

Yet when manufacturers gather in Geneva, it’s not entirely in a truce – no, Geneva is a place of psychological warfare. When in Geneva, the battle ground isn’t on the street or on track, but rather in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts globally. It’s a war of wits; and for this reason, it’s why Geneva is where many manufacturers choose to bring out the big guns – revealing their elite performance and tech machines.

Throughout the years, Geneva has been the place where manufacturers have displayed cars like the nuclear-powered Simca Fulgur, the rotary powered Mercedes-Benz C111/II, the Ferrari 288 GTO, the E36 BMW 3 Series, and in recent years, the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera, Alfa Romeo 4C, and the Koenigsegg Regera.

The Best of the Best – 2018’s Attractions Geneva is for the best of the best to make their debut, and this year is no exception, as we’ll be seeing the new Porsche 911 GT3 RS, the Ferrari 488 Pista, and McLaren’s new Senna – the latest addition to the Ultimate Series range. However Geneva has become famous for not just its supercar attractions – even the layman has something to look forward to, with everything from the new Mini Cooper to the new Volvo V60 being displayed. That’s always been Geneva’s strong point – a place where everything from the mundane to the extraordinary can be displayed for the public.

But the motoring world now stands on the brink of a new era of motoring. With the push for alternative means of propulsion, the Geneva Motor Show will be the place for manufacturers to show off their most extreme technology – technology that will pioneer the future. As one of the largest shows around, it’s the perfect platform, and this year alone we’re seeing the likes of Volvo’s standalone sub-brand, Polestar, revealing the Polestar 1 performance hybrid, Rimac’s electric C_Two supercar, and Jaguar’s all-electric I-Pace SUV. It’s on the concept front that we get a further glimpse of the future, though.

Volkswagen’s I.D. Vizzion paves the way for the company to emerge from the Dieselgate scandal into a leader in future mobility, while Honda’s Sports EV concept hints as what the future may hold for the compact sports car for those who love to drive. The future of motorsport will be displayed too, as the Formula E Gen2 concept will be proudly shown. Where else in the world will you find more than 120 vehicles on display, showing off the best of the past, the present, and the future under one proverbial roof? Nowhere but the internet offers such a collection of automobile glory in one place.

A Show with Expert Timing But there’s more to Geneva’s importance on the show calendar than just the sheer multitude of vehicles, production and concept alike, on display – though if that hasn’t already convinced you, I’m not sure much will. The Geneva Motor Show’s timing also makes it vitally important for the motoring industry. Whereas the Tokyo Auto Salon and North American International Auto Show may kick off the year’s proceedings, they’re primarily displaying vehicles currently available, merely in special trims – though this year Ford managed to display several future USDM models too.

However Geneva’s timing in March gives it the perfect time slot ahead of the new model year offerings. Within the next 6 months, manufacturers will offer their MY19 models to the public through dealerships, and it’s at Geneva we get our first glimpse of all these updates in the metal, as well as new releases just a few months before they hit the roads. The timing of these reveals and displays in Geneva gives manufacturers enough time to build up hype for the forthcoming MY updates, but a short enough span so that the buying public doesn’t become tired before the model even hits the streets.

It’s an extremely clever marketing tactic that drives pre-orders, and then when the initial deliveries take place the hype is driven further by the happy buyers showing off their new wheels. It’s important for manufacturers to participate at the Geneva Motor Show for this reason, and it in turn drives the rest of the industry. If it weren’t for this, we wouldn’t get such great deals on end-of-line stock on current models, or even better deals on dealer demo stock being moved on to make way for the new dealer demos arriving. All sectors of the industry benefit from the hype generated by Geneva.

Not even Frankfurt has this effect due to how late in the year it takes place – which is why Frankfurt tends to focus more on European market debuts than global ones. Though the Geneva Motor Show takes place on European soil, and though it might attract more European manufacturers than any other motor show, the 113 year old motor show is arguably the most important event for the motoring world on a global scale.

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