Whither Geneva?

The first week of March has since time immemorial been the date of the Geneva Show, the event which always seemed to herald the new motoring year. But once again and for the third year in succession, the Show has been cancelled. The organisers blamed covid travel restrictions and the continuing silicon chip shortage and said this abandonment would enable them to “make a more impactful event in 2023.”  

The original cancellation in early 2020 only weeks before the Show was due to open was a shock to the automobile world and the first inkling for many that covid was not just something happening in China. Within weeks, European countries were locked down and as stop-start confinements went on through the year, it was more and more apparent that a return to ‘as you were’ was some time away. 2021 marked the arrival of wholesale vaccination and some resumption of activity, including motor shows. In contrast with 2020 this year’s Geneva cancellation caused hardly a stir and many correspondents began to wonder whether the show would ever return, at least in its present form.  

In its day, Geneva was the show. Compact, cosmopolitan and with everyone, from Italian stylists to wild Japanese turbos, it was theindustry window. Epochal announcements were made and sensational launches such as the E type Jaguar in 1961 have gone down in history. Even in recent decades as Far east shows mushroomed and European events declined, Geneva seemed to defy the progress of information technology which allows you to see and read about everything without leaving your desk. But for exhibitors and visitors, Geneva was always expensive and has become ever more so, seemingly with less and less justification; some manufacturers stopped attending, buying trends were shifting, the Middle and Far East had become more important. In truth the rot had set in before covid, but the industry needed an excuse to give up its Geneva habit and the pandemic provided that.

A Geneva show of sorts may resurface, but probably in a smaller, different format. In the fast-moving twenty-first century, re-entry at top level, as Michael Schumacher discovered in F1, has become almost impossible. 

Photo by Samuele Errico Piccarini on Unsplash

Kieron Fennelly
Kieron Fennelly

As a youngster he used to send race reports on Mallory Park meetings to the Derby Evening Telegraph which unaccountably always failed to print them. For thirty years he produced reports and analysis for other people before turning to motoring journalism and writing about matters rather closer to heart. An old 911, acquired when they were still affordable opened the world of Porsche and today he writes on historical subjects for several Porsche magazines in Europe and the US. He is also the UK correspondent for the classic car weekly, La Vie de l’Auto and keeps a foot in the modern world with a column in Trucking, a transport magazine, and as motoring correspondent for the Irish Police Journal.

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