The car year 2020 had not even really started, the big car manufacturers pulled the plug at the next big motor shows. Mercedes said goodbye to the New York Auto Show in April and the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Daimler will also not be represented at the North American International Auto Show, which will change from the unpopular winter in Detroit to June for the first time in 2020. It is no different with Audi and BMW. The two powerful premium manufacturers from Bavaria will not be exhibiting their new products in New York or Detroit. But that’s not all. Many of the most important car manufacturers will also be missing from the largest European car show of the year, which takes place in Paris in October. BMW, Volkswagen and Mercedes leave them out of the head office; National sales organizations are currently still fighting for brands such as Audi or Porsche to be represented on the Seine on a small scale. Anyone who saw the Paris Salon last edition in autumn 2018 will understand why you can stay away from this fair with a clear conscience. Most of the halls were automobile tragedies, in which innovations can hardly be staged in a style and image appropriate.
After the bitter IAA last autumn with its gigantic drop in visitor numbers, many car manufacturers will tighten their belts again in 2020/2021. Among other things, the Geneva Salon will feel this at the beginning of March. Jaguar Land Rover or Ford are not the only ones who will not be visiting the Palexpo exhibition center again this year. PSA also recently announced that its own brands Opel, Peugeot and Citroen will not be exhibiting at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show. The problems of the major auto shows are getting bigger every year. The exhibition areas are more expensive than ever, the costs for planning, stand construction and personnel are gigantic. It is difficult to calculate the success of the exhibited products in terms of image gain and sales. In addition, a new generation of top managers has long been in charge of the boardrooms, who do not simply nod the multi-million dollar expenses without questioning them critically. In addition, the trade fairs, particularly in Europe, hardly succeed in attracting a new, younger audience. The situation is different in Asia and the Chinese trade fairs in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are particularly well attended. This is still about image building and upcoming sales of potential first customers. In Korea and India, too, it is still worth investing in traditional large-scale events.
The classic motor shows are increasingly having to cope with other shows. The international car industry has long been celebrating the start of the year at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, presenting itself in the high-tech environment of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona or using other international formats or creating its own in-house exhibitions. Brands like Apple or Tesla have successfully demonstrated this. So it is no surprise that the IAA is still looking for itself before the upcoming edition in autumn 2021 and that the venue has not yet been determined. However, there will never be a mass fair like once again, and the terrible demise of the Geneva Salon and Parismesse will hardly be stopped in the coming years. What draws, on the other hand, are small special fairs, specific events where you can address a focused audience. Here, too, the costs are mostly kept within reasonable limits.
Automobile fairs have had two very different addressees for decades. At first glance, the audience sees that the more or less perfectly staged vehicles, innovations and brand appearances should look at the exhibition halls. But for the viewers, be it a few tens of thousands at a B / C trade fair or hundreds of thousands at a top event such as in Frankfurt, Beijing or New York, the financial expenditure is in most cases clearly too high. Last but not least, manufacturers want to impress international journalists with new products, news and technical innovations. These, in turn, carry the hopefully happy brand message across the various channels into the wider world. One of the most important aspects remains the internal impact. Many long-serving managers and board members like to see each other on a stage in order to present the innovations in front of the direct competition.
Once it was primarily the print titles that reported on the innovations in full color and pages before and after the trade fair, the tide has changed. In the case of daily newspapers and magazines, no one is interested in the content of the event after the fair. The major auto shows all over the world have long reported on social media, TV or online in real time or even live in real time. In terms of media, the trade fairs have been taking place for a long time in advance, and their former importance as an industry get-together continues to decline.
But while more and more car manufacturers are turning their backs on the car shows, there is another way. Toyota, for example, wants to largely stick to the traditional format; especially in the USA. “We’re making adjustments. Auto shows are still a critical part of the business and they’re critical from a consumer perspective,” said Toyota Motor North America Sales Manager Bob Carter to Automotive News, “Most buyers – 35 percent of the people, who will be buying a car in the next twelve months – drop in at a car show. It’s a very important place to communicate. ” Toyota and Lexus will therefore continue to be represented at the New York Auto Show and other large and regional fairs. However, the Japanese company is likely to switch to other forms of marketing at the shows rather than press conferences. “You will see that we focus our investments on these shows in relation to the size of the markets,” added Carter, “we will adjust the investment to media days, but this is still the right place for the consumer.”