Some automakers are now rethinking everything.
It was supposed to be the 90th annual Geneva Motor Show, one of the world's most premier automotive events. The coronavirus changed that. In an effort to contain this deadly flu strain, Geneva show organizers were forced to cancel the event following a Swiss government ban on any public or private event hosting more than 1,000 people. It's a huge loss not only for the city of Geneva but also for some automakers who count on the event to serve as a launching pad for its latest reveals.
Koenigsegg, Pagani, and Rimac are prime examples of smaller automakers who might lack the resources for alternative debuts. Larger automakers, however, can more easily deal with the fallout. Automakers such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and McLaren are planning live-stream reveals instead.
Thing is, this could prove to be a further indication the traditional auto show model is far less relevant than it used to be. For example, Ford, Maserati, Lamborghini, Volvo, Nissan, and Infiniti had already opted out of Geneva this year, preferring instead to hold private reveal events that will also be live-streamed. They won't have to share the spotlight with anyone else when doing so. Those aforementioned brands forced to have alternative reveals will soon be able to measure the response rate. If, for example, BMW's live-stream reveal of the Concept i4 goes extremely well, then it could further reevaluate whether spending millions at events like Geneva is worth it.
After all, people today are already getting a majority of their news directly from their smartphones via social media platforms. Live-stream reveals are ideally suited for this format as automakers now have the capability of reaching far more people at once.
Next month, the 2020 New York Auto Show is scheduled to take place but the coronavirus isn't going anywhere. Once again, show organizers could be forced to cancel the event as part of a containment policy. The all-new Ford Bronco is just one of many expected reveals, though the automaker already has a live-stream reveal planned.
What's more, automakers spend millions on auto show stands, transportation, and staff. In the case of Geneva, exhibitors will not be receiving refunds. Why? Because it was the Swiss health authorities who canceled the event, not the show's organizers.
This means participating automakers have just lost a fair amount of money. A private live-stream event, however, costs less to do in the first place and, if necessary, can be rescheduled far more easily.