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"BYD, Dacia, MG and Renault are among the most impressive and in-touch car brands in the world"

Mike Rutherford is confused as to why so many car manufacturers avoided the 2024 Geneva Motor Show

Opinion - MG3

They’re undoubtedly good – and getting better – at designing and building cars. But most of the world’s manufacturers aren’t great at talking about themselves or answering to their buying public.

True, when it comes to telling current or potential customers what models they’re marketing at the minute and why consumers should be buying or leasing them, they do an excellent job. But what other significant efforts do manufacturers make to ensure they have proper, two-way conversations with existing customers they’re desperate to retain, or new clients they’re hoping to attract?

Rarely do they invite the punters to witness first hand how vehicles are carefully and lovingly built. Even rarer are opportunities for keen customers to talk cars and related matters with frontline experts employed in the design and engineering studios, on the production lines and at the in-house test tracks.

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In fairness to vehicle makers, busy factories are hardly ideal locations for meaningful dialogue between brands and the people who buy them.

And that’s why stands at national or international motor shows were invented. They’re pretty much the only events where inquisitive consumers can come face to face with manufacturers – before asking the experts in their employ the sort of questions that need answering. The punters are kept informed. Manufacturers harvest important and honest feedback, plus sales leads. Relationships are built. Ultimately, more cars are sold to clued-up customers who feel a bit more loved. Everyone wins. All this begs the question: why did 90 per cent-plus of the world’s major car makers give the 2024 Geneva International Motor Show a wide berth?

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Not that BYD, Dacia, MG and Renault went with this global motor industry flow. The effective boycott of Geneva by manufacturers big and small is something these four dare-to-be-different car firms refused to go along with.

Right up until the pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2020 event, Geneva was (and could again become) the greatest motor show on earth. More importantly, the Geneva Four, as I like to dub these forward-thinking companies, have much to say and plenty of hugely significant, sensibly priced products to display on their respective stands.

Glamorous they’re not. But long-established Renault, back-from-the-dead MG, onwards-and-upwards Dacia and new kid BYD can consider themselves to be among the most impressive and in-touch brands of the world. Right now, the Geneva Four are out there meeting and greeting the motoring masses as they enthusiastically unveil their affordable new electric cars, launch brand-new sister brands, celebrate massive hikes in sales and more.

As for those rivals who gave Geneva a swerve, I’m genuinely struggling to understand why they couldn’t be bothered to turn up. Maybe it was lethargy, cost-cutting, or burn-out. Or all three? Or might it be that they just don't have as much good stuff to say and display as BYD, Dacia, MG and Renault?

Do you agree with Mike? Let is know your thoughts in the comments section...

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Chief columnist

Mike was one of the founding fathers of Auto Express in 1988. He's been motoring editor on four tabloid newspapers - London Evening News, The Sun, News of the World & Daily Mirror. He was also a weekly columnist on the Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Sunday Times. 

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