Why Geneva has got it right

2012 Geneva Motor Show
7 Mar, 2012 9:52am Graham Hope

Graham Hope on why size matters at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show...

There are very few things the motor industry concurs on. The future’s electric, for example. Or is it fuel cell? Hybrid? Perhaps. And there are still those who argue internal combustion is the way ahead.

But one thing no one disputes is that size matters. Everywhere you turned at Geneva, people were talking about it, whether it was in regard to the dimensions of the vehicles or the engines that power them.

Some makers, like Fiat, clearly see small cars as the future. Others, like Bentley, are thinking bigger and bursting into previously unoccupied territory. Elsewhere, lower emissions and maximum power were buzzwords among fevered execs.

So, yes, size matters, albeit with one caveat… there’s no common theme. Except in one area. And that concerns the size of the show itself.

Everyone I spoke to agrees that the Swiss event has got it right. It’s big enough to be meaningful, but compact enough to be manageable, both in terms of negotiating the halls and the money spent to attend.

The comparison constantly drawn up is Frankfurt, which is now such a monster that I was told several times by company bigwigs – off the record – that they actively dread going there,

Hardly a compelling selling point for what should be a glittering showcase for the industry, is it? 

Last year’s Frankfurt event took motor shows to a new level, with the German companies in particular spending obscene amounts of money to create the biggest, most ostentatious stands possible.

Is it worth it? As Geneva shows, the cars the industry is making are as innovative as ever. And it doesn’t need an area the size of Belgium and a budget that would sort out the Greek financial crisis to show them to best effect, which makes it a far more appealing proposition.

It’s time for Frankfurt to take a leaf out of Geneva’s book.