Are The Large Auto Shows Becoming Less Important?

Four major automotive brands will not be present at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.  Are large International auto shows becoming less important?

On Monday, I wrote about my experience attending the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.  I briefly discussed the sheer size of the event and did not touch upon the cost.  Parking was $25 and admission was $10 per person without coupons.  I don’t have any idea regarding costs to the manufacturers but I would guess in the millions or tens of millions of dollars.

There are nine major auto shows around the world and countless smaller regional ones.  While I remember seeing a list with the LA Auto Show on it, the list below doesn’t even list it. However, it lists two auto shows in China, which is new to me. The list includes:

  1. Tokyo Motor Show
  2. Auto China
  3. The Chicago Auto Show
  4. Auto Shanghai
  5. Geneva Motor Show
  6. NAIAS North American International Auto Show
  7. Paris Global Motor Show
  8. IAA Cars Frankfurt

For a manufacturer, the cost of one show is substantial.  For nine shows, the costs to an automotive manufacturer would require a substantial investment.  With the global economic outlook dimming and along with it, automotive sales forecasts.

The 2019 Geneva Auto Show

The Geneva Motor Show in Geneva Switzerland will be taking place on March 7 through 17, 2019. In recent days, Jaguar Land Rover announced that they will not be in attendance at the Swiss auto expo. They are the third and forth major brands to announce that they will not be in attendance.

The others are Volvo who is going to be focusing on hosting its own unique events to reach customers.  The other brand, Ford claims that the timing of the show did not fit its schedule and did not represent a good value for the money.

When making the announcement, the Jaguar Land Rover spokesperson confirmed that both brands are “looking at the effectiveness of each motor show individually.”

In light of the recent cancellations, increasing competition, and a global economic slowdown possibly looming on the horizon, one can’t help but to wonder if may be the best days of the International motor shows are behind us. Dr. Herbert Diess, chairman of Volkswagen has said that the traditional auto shows are dead.  Could he be correct?

Auto Shows, as old as the automobile itself

Auto shows have been around as long as the automobile itself.  Prior to the Internet, they were used as venues to debut new models and model year makeovers.

Post Internet, the complete development cycles of new models are covered by automotive journalists and by automotive blogs like Car Fan Blog. The manufacturers themselves will release spy shots and final testing of upcoming models in order build anticipation for a model. Potential customers can follow the development of cars of interest online rather than waiting for the car show to see the car in person.

Since the Internet, automotive debuts are live-streamed online to a captive audience much larger than will walk the massive halls of the largest auto salons. Taking into consideration the huge costs associated with the large auto show productions, one has to wonder what the future holds for automotive debuts and the large auto shows in general.

The Internet as the new large auto show

Popular Instagrammers and YouTubers with large social media followings, also known as influencers are often paid large sums of money by manufacturers to promote their products or services. These are influencers with followings in the hundreds of thousands or millions. Can such a marketing channel be harnessed online to sell cars?


As younger generations approach the age when they are most likely to become interested or buy cars, I can see them using the channels that they are most accustomed to address their needs. The channel in question is of course Internet.

Until then, I see large auto shows continuing to be important to the automobile manufacturers. I can also see the Internet and social media continuing to increase in importance.

What do you think? Are the large auto shows as we know them changing? Leave your comments below.

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