It’s official now. According to the latest update on the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers’ website, this year’s Geneva Motor Show has been cancelled due to the continued spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Earlier this month, the Beijing Motor Show was officially postponed due to Coronavirus
This is after several confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Geneva and other parts of Switzerland came to light. There has been a substantial outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in China, in northern Italy recently, with cases announced in a number of other European countries.
On Friday morning, the Swiss government banned large gatherings. In a statement, the cabinet said: “In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act. Large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March."
The show, which is billed as the biggest in the global automotive calendar, was due to open to press on Tuesday 3 March before opening to the public from 5-15 March. Around 602,000 people attended the show last year.
Several companies had already changed their plans in the days leading up to the confirmation. Audio firm Harman pulled its stand earlier this week, with EV start-up Byton following suit last night.
The Geneva Motor Show organisers said: "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 Maurice Turrettini, Chairman of the Foundation Board. We would like to warmly thank all those involved in the organisation of the 2020 edition of GIMS.
A few days before the opening of the event, the construction of the stands was very nearly complete. A week ago, during the press conferences announcing the 2020 edition, there was nothing to suggest that such a measure was necessary. The situation changed with the appearance of the first confirmed coronavirus diseases in Switzerland and the injonction of the Federal Council on 28.02.2020. The event is cancelled due to this decision."
This year's Chinese Grand Prix, due to take place in April, has already been postponed due to the coronavirus, along with other major events outside the automotive world, including the forthcoming Ireland vs Italy Six Nations rugby match. A number of Italian Serie A football games due to take place this weekend will be played behind closed doors.
Moves to combat the spread of Covid-19 could have a major impact on the car industry beyond the cancellation of Geneva. Car sales in China, which has been worst-hit by the virus, have slumped, and there are concerns about the supply of parts from the country, which remains a major manufacturing hub. For example, in its latest financial results Aston Martin noted that parts supply issues could potentially delay the launch of the DBX SUV.
Hyundai was also forced to close on its its factories on Friday in South Korea, which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases outside of China, after a worked tested positive for the virus.
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