Paris motor show will not proceed as planned

31 March 2020

31 March 2020

The Paris motor show has been called off in its ‘current form’ due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19). Organisers confirmed the automotive industry has been hit hard by the health crisis, with an economic shockwave and increasing uncertainty putting its survival at stake.

The biennial event was scheduled to kick off on 29 September at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre, with media days on 29 and 30 September. Alternating with Frankfurt, the Paris motor show is a major date in the automotive calendar, one which drew in more than a million visitors in 2018.

Alternatives on the table

‘We will not be able to maintain the 2020 edition of the Paris Motor Show at the Porte de Versailles in its current form,’ organisers said in a press release. So instead of cancelling the show altogether, those in charge are looking to explore alternative arrangements with their partners.

The organisers are working on a reinvention of the event. They are exploring opportunities with ‘a festival dimension based on innovative mobility, but also a strong B2B component’.

While the main event will not carry on as a traditional motor show, other elements like the Movin'On, Smart City and other off-site events are not currently being questioned, and look to go ahead. Whether they too will succumb to COVID-19 pressures, remains to be seen. 

Early indicators

This early cancellation the event, which is six months away, indicates the level of concern organisers have around the impact of COVID-19 on the automotive industry. Motor shows have already been hastily adapting as the pandemic and its associated lockdowns take hold. Motor shows in Geneva, Detroit and New York have all seen delays, setbacks and cancellations.

The cancellation of the Geneva Internal Motor Show in early March led to manufacturers broadcasting their new models and concepts in online events. This promoted a media-to-the-masses approach where journalists digested as much information as possible before passing on what they learnt to their respective audiences. Autovista Group filmed a ‘Geneva Round-up’, summarising some of the biggest digital announcements.

But appealing to the media alone won’t be a sustainable model for future shows. With attendance numbers dropping long before the COVID-19 crisis, manufacturers will need to offer attendees more than the traditional ‘concept vehicle behind a velvet rope’ affair. Writing earlier this month, Autovista Group Daily Brief editor, Phil Curry, identified the need for greater relevance and interaction with the introduction of test drives, roadshows and hands-on experiences.

These kinds of events have proven popular with Ford, which held a roadshow with the new Ford Mach-E, allowing attendants the opportunity to sit in the new vehicle and gain a first-hand experience. 

With COVID-19 curtailing the running of traditional motor shows, organisers may see this as an opportunity to reformat the struggling events and reinvigorate interest in the industry.