This Is What A Trade Show Cancelled By Coronavirus Looks Like

I’m really kind of jealous of automotive photographer George Williams right now. He got to stroll around the completely empty Geneva Motor Show two days following the show’s cancelation and honestly, all auto shows should be like this.

Geneva is probably the most prestigious auto show on the global calendar, and it’s the one where all of the boutique automakers still clinging on in Europe show their most expensive and over-the-top new designs. In the same way that you might go to the New York Auto Show to compare different new minivans on sale, if you are an oil baron from a post-Soviet state, you’d go to Geneva to cross-shop Koenigseggs against Paganis. In the world of superluxury cars, Geneva is a big deal.


And organizers canceled the show, meant to kick off March 3, due to the threat of the Coronavirus late last week so many automakers had cars, booths and promotional materials already in place.

Brands that were planning big reveals at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show are now scrambling to make do. Some are still revealing at the show because why not? There’s a car, there’s a sheet, and there are a million ways to stream the reveal to the folks who care. Williams kicks off his video showing Czinger reveal its car, the 21C, with an inglorious background of stacks of boxes and some scaffolding. Probably not the moment the young carmaker was dreaming of, but they came all the way from California so why not? Koenigsegg is also still planning to reveal at the “show,” which it’ll stream tomorrow, according to the automaker. Williams points out Koenigsegg booth is shrouded in curtains to hide the car from the ghosts of auto shows past.

Morgan is taking a different approach, turning its long slog back to the UK into a road trip reveal of its new four-cylinder roadster. But most are just packing it in. It takes a ton of money, time and effort to set up one of these booths, so to see them coming down after not serving their purpose is kind of a bummer. Still, the glorious emptiness of the place gives me a little thrill. Imagine being able to take a photo of a car reveal from the front row and not having to elbow some heavy-breathing photog from in the ribs to do so.

No boomer journalists suddenly stopping in the middle of a crowded walkway to hunt-and-peck at their phones, no auto execs slamming into you because they physically can’t see someone so poor, just glorious, echoing emptiness.

What a world! It’s the auto show myself and my fellow misanthropes deserve, just don’t let any of them in while I’m there.

Managing Editor of Jalopnik.


I’m not in the Auto industry, but in my industry, trade shows are insane. I go to a trade show that is Monday through Friday around lunch time. Saturday, the boxes arrive. Sunday, it looks like a construction site with pure chaos that looks like it will never be done on time. Monday at 8 am, you would think the booths were always there in that configuration since the dawn of time. Friday at 12:01, the construction atmosphere kicks in again and most booths are back in boxes at a shipping dock by 3 pm.

Trade shows sound cool, but they suck. You work like a galley slave on Sunday getting the booth ready. Then Monday through Thursday,it’s happy face from 8 am to 7 pm when the show ends. Then it’s take out customers to a super expensive, super rich place to eat where you eat way too much and drink a bit more then you normally do. You stagger back into the hotel room around mid-night and it’s Happy Face, “I-will-listen-to-your-BS-and-hope-you-buy-something-but- know-you-won’t” at 8 am the next morning.