For the first time since the second world war, the Geneva Auto Show has been cancelled. Two days after show organisers reconfirmed the show would run, albeit already following the withdrawal of a few exhibitors, the Geneva auto show was cancelled on Friday 28th February, 3 days before the first media day, as a consequence of the Swiss government ruling that no public gatherings of more than 1000 people may take place as precautionary measure against the spread of the Covid 19 virus that is infecting people within many nearby regions. None-the-less, all of the new designs due to be presented at the show are just as significant as before, so please see here our (Not the) 2020 Geneva Auto Show coverage as these designs are unveiled, many still following the original timings of the auto show press conference schedule.
Geneva looked like being a ‘bumper year’ with some really strong new design debuts: from the eighth generation Volkswagen Golf, to the radical Citroen Ami electric quadricycle, to the one of twelve Bentley Mulliner Bacalar. Other designs, include the important new Toyota Yaris, Seat Leon, and Mercedes E-class, and some designs that were not destined to be shown in Geneva (as is increasingly the trend) like the JLR Project Vector and GMD Motiv that show new thoughts on Car 2.0. Also concepts from DS, Hyundai, Renault, and Polestar, as well as a bounty of interesting new supercars typical of this Swiss show, and potentially several exciting designs from the Italian FCA brands — Geneva 2020 was going to be a great show, but both our coverage here and in our Design Trends Reports for (Not the) 2020 Geneva Auto Show will be much as if the show had run!
Whilst it is odd not to have been scrutinising new cars in Geneva this year, there has been a huge volume of material published on-line, not least a spectrum of impromptu press conferences undertaken by brands in different styles and hosted by Geneva Auto Show here: https://www.gimsvirtualpressday.ch
Without a doubt it is a big loss not to see new designs ‘in-the-metal’, to be able to sit in them, and to touch and use facets of them also as we have done at every Geneva show for over twenty years and do all the other major shows also. But, with the whole team focused on desk research, remotely engaging with OEM car brands design teams, and seeing a few at smaller unveils the (Not the) 2020 Geneva Auto show has proven to be a strong year with many major design debuts.
It’s not happened before and we hope it won’t happen again, although New York (despite what organisers are currently saying) will likely not run, and Beijing has already been indefinitely postponed. Covid-19 is clearly impacting on life and the world in more significant ways, but evidently is taking its toll on Auto shows also, and Geneva is testimony to that. With a context of the waning auto show in general — Frankfurt has had its last show, and all bar the Chinese shows are less than they once were in this ‘digital age’ — the hastily prepared variety of brand specific announcements demonstrate also how much remote delivery can achieve. Maybe this forced pause will enable a regrouping and a new approach to realise more of the ‘experience age’ that we also live in to be evident in future shows?
From an automotive design perspective there were so many trends we see in the new designs announced this week and those also presented over the last few weeks and months. Yellow is predictably much evident, some exterior aesthetic treatments are also clearly emergent, not least the explicit communication of the technical with various ‘information panels’ (perhaps pioneered the Ital Design Audi Aztec concept from 1988?!), and other conceptual and HMI design trends. Perhaps also interesting to see this year — and our remote viewing maybe enhances this — is the growth in the communication of the ‘design sketch’ (evidently often created after the event to wholly align with the final design and not expose creative ideas too hard to realise!) in communicating the equity of these new designs. Like much of our audience perhaps, we think there remains much scope to better leverage the value of design in the communication of cars to media and customer, and maybe this trend is part of a widening recognition of this…
Here’s to realising some of the best case scenarios ahead for 2020!