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The death of the Geneva Motor Show can't be considered as progress

Mike Rutherford laments the demise of the iconic Geneva Motor Show

Opinion - Geneva Motor Show

Nothing lasts forever, as former workers and customers of Rover, Saab and several other now-defunct car-manufacturing firms will testify. 

A different type of casualty, Rudolf Diesel (1858-1915), will be turning in his grave as new cars powered by the highly fuel-efficient and durable tech he invented will soon be banned in what I consider to be a blatant act of unjustifiable homicide. 

And yet another landmark decision that’s beyond ridiculous came last week with the announcement that the world’s greatest car exhibition is dead. Not only that, but they – the ‘organisers’ of the Geneva Motor Show – also went a depressing step further by saying the biggest, most prestigious event for 100-plus years (it attracted up to 600,000 customers annually) is buried too, and will not return. 

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How on earth can this be considered progress for the European quarter of the automotive world and, more importantly, the consumers who keep it going? Car buyers are struggling to keep up with countless all-new or unknown brands offering more choice, price lists and often confusing state-of-the-art tech. If there’s one venue on the continent capable of properly hosting them, it’s the Geneva Show site.

Why should you, as a consumer or auto industry employee, care about any of this? Because what has traditionally been the greatest and most important car show on earth was surprisingly accessible – not least because of its location, a 10-minute walk from Geneva airport. Courtesy of Easyjet, I once flew out there from Gatwick early AM, spent a busy 12 hours inside the halls and returned to Blighty late PM on the same day. Total cost: about 40 quid! You can pay more for a short train ride to and from East London from the Kentish outskirts of the capital. 

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So what does a country that’s shot itself in both feet by dumping its car show have to offer as a possible high-profile replacement? The Swiss Yodelling Festival. I kid you not.  

And while I’m mourning the passing of Geneva, we also have to remind ourselves that the once huge and traditional Turin Motor Show is also uneasily resting in peace, as are Frankfurt and others – including the London Motor Shows/Fairs, which were held everywhere from Earls Court to Battersea Park and ExCel, but are no more. 

It’s fair to say the formerly successful formula of out-of-reach static cars and nothing else is struggling in an era when mums, dads and their children demand more hands-on experiences such as on-site test drives (for adults and kids) or dream-car rides courtesy of The Sporting Bears charity. On-stage presenters and TV celebs are another must, as are stunt shows, record attempts, competitions, awards ceremonies, live music and more. 

All the above – plus countless new, used and classic show cars, vans, bikes and a multi-million-pound supercar paddock – can be yours this August at The British Motor Show. The indoor/outdoor event at the impressive Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre is deliberately different and unapologetically family-orientated. 

Think of it as our national car exhibition-cum-garden party – because that’s what it is. 

Do you agree with Mike? Let us 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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