Coronavirus: Geneva Motor Show joins list of cancelled events

High-end trade fair had been due to start on Monday

Workers dismantling the Mercedes stand at the Geneva International Motor Show, which has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Photograph: AFP

Workers dismantling the Mercedes stand at the Geneva International Motor Show, which has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Photograph: AFP

 

One of the car industry’s marquee events fell victim to the coronavirus epidemic, with organisers of the Geneva International Motor Show pulling the plug as the outbreak spreads in Europe.

The trade fair, which was due to start on Monday, will return next year, Palexpo, which runs the Geneva convention centre, said on Friday in a video briefing to exhibitors. Swiss authorities earlier in the day banned big events on health concerns. The virus reached Switzerland this week and neighbouring Italy reported hundreds of cases.

The expo is among the automotive sector’s glitziest, with a high proportion of luxury and sports models on display, and Palexpo had been pushing ahead with plans. Earlier this week it pledged to step up hygiene and health warnings and urged participants to screen staff for symptoms.

The viral outbreak that began in China has spread to 52 countries and territories, with Italian cases centred on northern provinces that border Switzerland. Geneva, home to the World Health Organisation, which is fighting the epidemic, is a three-hour drive from Turin, where Fiat Chrysler has an operational base.

Watch industry

The luxury-watch industry’s Watches and Wonders Geneva, planned for April, was cancelled on Thursday, while the rival Baselworld expo was considering whether to go ahead. Together the events are the sector’s biggest trade fairs.

The motor show joins high-profile casualties of the virus including the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the biggest annual showcase for the telecoms sector, scrapped after a succession of tech giants from Ericsson to Sony to LG Electronics pulled out citing concerns around the virus.

A car show in Beijing scheduled for April has also been postponed, while the Singapore Airshow went ahead earlier this month in front of sparse crowds and with scores of companies steering clear as the virus spread beyond China. – Bloomberg