The 2020 Geneva Motor Show is canceled after the Swiss government banned gatherings of 1,000 people or more on Friday due to concerns over the coronavirus. The ban is effective immediately and runs at least until March 15th. The 90th edition of GIMS was scheduled to start next week.
“We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority. This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision,” said motor show chairman Maurice Turrettini in a statement. Tickets already purchased for the event will be refunded.
The Geneva Motor Show isn’t the biggest car show in the world, but it’s the one where automakers typically like to announce their flashiest, most future-facing vehicles and concepts. Last year we saw the debut of “megacars” like the Koenigsegg Jesko, VW’s electric dune buggy concept, and the Pininfarina Battista, one of the fastest electric vehicles on the planet.
Geneva is the latest trade show to get the axe following the coronavirus outbreak. In the tech world, the most notable have been the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, which is the biggest smartphone show in the world, and Facebook’s F8 developer conference. Some sporting events have been cancelled, too. Both Formula One and Formula E have canceled races in China, and the International Olympic Committee has faced increasing questions about this year’s summer olympics in Japan.
Palexpo and the foundation that puts on the Geneva Motor Show had tried to keep it afloat by issuing a slate of warnings to attendees. It said it would increase the rate of cleaning and disinfection around the convention center, asked exhibitors from “at-risk areas” to screen their staff, and advised attendees to regularly wash their hands and also keep at least three feet away from anyone “who is coughing or sneezing.”
At least two automakers that had planned to attend have said they will do “digital press conferences instead. BMW said Friday it now will unveil its i4 electric concept sedan via digital press conference on Tuesday, March 3rd, while Mercedes-Benz will announce its new E-Class in a similar manner. Pininfarina told The Verge that it will simply release information about its planned announcement online, but that it’s also “discussing ideas for a physical world premiere to follow.”
Fiat Chrysler has “no plan B, but [said] it was considering ways to show off a new electric Fiat 500,” according to Reuters, while Audi told the outlet that it would digitally release information about its new Audi A3 sportback and Audi E-Tron S.
Update February 28th, 6:40AM ET: Added statement from Maurice Turrettini.
Update February 28th, 9:58AM ET: Added information about BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Pininfarina.
Update February 28th, 1:22PM ET: Added information about FCA and Audi.