2021 Geneva Motor Show ‘very uncertain’ as organisers reject loan

This year’s car show was cancelled four days prior to its opening due to the coronavirus outbreak, costing an estimated loss of CHF11 million for the organisers of Switzerland’s largest event. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

The 2021 edition of the Geneva International Motor Show remains touch and go after the organisers rejected the terms surrounding a state rescue loan. 

This year’s car show was cancelled four days prior to its opening due to the coronavirus outbreak, costing an estimated loss of CHF11 million ($11.3 million) for the organisers of Switzerland’s largest public event. 

Canton Geneva came to their rescue with the offer of a CHF16.8 million loan to be reimbursed over 15 years at low interest rates. This would help cover the cost of the cancellation and plan for the 2021 event. But on Tuesday the foundation that organises the event rejected the loan based on the conditions attached to it.

In a statement, the foundation thanked the Geneva authorities for its offer, but added: “Unfortunately, the conditions attached to the loan, which, in particular, aim to completely outsource the show including its conceptualisation to Palexpo SA [the company running the Geneva congress centre], are not acceptable to the foundation.”

“In fact, they are in contradiction to the statutes and especially to the purpose of the foundation formulated more than 100 years ago.”

It added that the organisation of the 2021 event was “very uncertain at the moment” and that motor exhibitors had instead strongly recommended to plan for the next edition in 2022. The organisers are reportedly seeking alternative funding.

Largest public event

The car show, which was due to take place from March 5-15, was cancelled on February 28 as a force majeure after the Swiss government banned large gatherings in order to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The Geneva Motor Show is the largest public event in Switzerland. Last year it attracted more than 600,000 visitors and almost 10,000 media representatives. The event generates an estimated CHF200 million in direct and indirect income for canton Geneva. It also represents a third of the Palexpo congress centre’s annual income and accounts for numerous jobs.

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