In an age when information is efficiently disseminated via the Internet and product reveals have become theatrical productions in their own right, I really don’t see the point of modern motor shows.

With the Geneva show kicking off the European season, I’m tempted to drag up all my curmudgeonly objections to walking many miles in one day, denying myself daylight and decent food, and failing to secure as many interviews as I’d planned. The concept – bright lights, loud music, car’s they wouldn’t normally get to see or touch – might still hold some appeal for paying punters, but professionally it’s days must now be numbered.

The Internet has killed off the element of surprise; used by OEMs to distribute and tease news in advance, seeing something in the metal for the first time is akin to feigning surprise at your previously leaked surprise birthday party. And while the bloggers, vloggers and broadcast news crews create a human Falklands-style exclusion zone around that ‘new’ car you saw on the Internet last week, the real focus for any hack with a purpose are the many company executives shipped in for interview opportunity.

Fair play to the suits who do make the effort, as it can’t be easy now answering questions on air quality and EV strategy when you rather be promoting that expensive shiny thing on your equally expensive show stand.

All of which brings me to my more positive point to this anti-show rant. If car makers are pleading poverty regarding the expense of creating show stands and even just having a modest presence, why not scrap the concept completely and reimaging the motor show as an industry talking shop? Ditching the cars, bright lights and loud music in favour of seminars and interview sessions would get my vote. It might even tempt me on a plane.

The UK, once a traditional motor show ‘go to’ destination, has seen the demise of the old format as the public voted with its feet. If you still want to to see some cars, there’s always the option of paying serious money to walk around a bloke’s back garden in West Sussex.

It won’t be long before motor show invites will include details of the approved specification of virtual reality glasses. The ability to see the latest products and interact with company execs without leaving the comfort of your own home or office is just around the corner. 

If car buyers can already experience their prospective new car at the local dealership using this technology, anything that stops me tripping over the post-lunch influx of families and other random non-media types at the Geneva show gets the thumbs up from me.

Iain Dooley | Chairman Western Group of Motoring Writers

Share This