In 2021, too, we will have to do without the world’s most important auto show: there will be no Geneva salon next year. This was decided by the committee and the council of the “Salon International de l’Automobile” foundation.
Immediately after the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) was canceled in March 2020, the organizing foundation asked the canton of Geneva for financial support. In order to cover the losses caused by the cancellation (around CHF 11 million) and to be able to prepare the next motor show.
The Grand Council said the foundation in early June a loan of 16.8 million Swiss francs. Condition: The foundation is organizing a motor show again in 2021. Because of this requirement, there was a conflict of interest and power struggle between exhibitor representatives and those in the Geneva region within the foundation.
In view of the uncertain further development due to the corona pandemic, the exhibitors feared a short-term cancellation and further losses. They did not want GIMS for 2021. The Geneva representatives, on the other hand, wanted to hold on to the 2021 event. Because the largest Swiss event ever has brought the Geneva region around CHF 200 million annually.
The Foundation Council decided yesterday evening that the GIMS Foundation will not be organizing a car show in 2021. In addition, the loan from the Geneva state is waived. The Foundation welcomes the sale of GIMS to the trade fair operator Palexpo SA. With the purchase of the assets, all rights of the organization of GIMS would be transferred to Palexpo. François Launaz, Vice President of the Board of Trustees and President of the Swiss Importers Association Auto Switzerland, expects the price to be negotiated based on a price of CHF 15 million: “The basis is the potential income from GIMS over the next five years,” says Launaz. At around CHF 35 million, GIMS has so far made up the lion’s share of Palexpo’s annual sales.
And what happens to the money? Launaz wants to compensate the exhibitors for payments already made for the canceled fair 2020, in order to create a positive mood for upcoming salons under new direction. “We do not want to do anything with GIMS rights,” emphasizes GIMS President Maurice Turrettini. After the sale of GIMS, the foundation will be dissolved and its assets transferred to a new foundation that could be used, for example, to promote the future of the automobile, autonomous driving or new technology, says Launaz.
The board of trustees regrets the decision. François Launaz: «Of course, GIMS is very important to us. But we simply could not accept the condition to guarantee that the salon would be held for next year. » A survey of exhibitors showed that a majority would not attend a 2021 salon. In addition, the automotive industry is in a difficult phase and takes time to recover from the aftermath of the corona pandemic. “In addition,” says Launaz, “it is not certain whether the health situation will allow an event with over 600,000 visitors and 10,000 journalists from all over the world as early as next spring.”
GIMS 2021 under Palexpo direction?
The previous GIMS organizers would in any case offer Palexpo SA a hand after the takeover and would be happy to provide advice and assistance in further salon events. “For example as an exhibitor committee and a link to international vehicle manufacturers and suppliers,” says Launaz: “Our goal is to secure the existence of GIMS in the long term.”
For 2021, however, the organization of the fair is off the table. Unless Palexpo SA undertakes pressure from regional business and interest representatives and tries on its own to get the exhibition going next year. Claude Membrez, General Director of Palexpo SA, does not yet look into the cards: “Nothing has been decided at the moment, we are analyzing the situation.”