Opel pulls out of Geneva show as manufacturers look to alternative event options

16 January 2018

16 January 2018

Vehicle manufacturer Opel is to miss this year’s Geneva motor show, as the company looks to cut costs and reverse years of losses.

Under pressure from new parent company PSA Group, which acquired the brand from General Motors in August 2017, Opel has no major vehicle launches planned for this year. With the Grandland X and Crossland X breaking cover at shows during the last 12 months, the company has decided to miss this year’s major European event.

Talking to Automotive News Europe, A PSA spokesman said motor shows are just one of many marketing tools. ′If there is no new product, then the brands won’t be there.’

Both the Peugeot and Citroen brands will be present in Switzerland, however fellow PSA Group brand DS will not attend. The company is facing low sales of its niche vehicles and will also be saving money by not attending the event.

Opel said it would focus will on its own events. It will only appear at auto shows when there are good business and marketing reasons to do so; an Opel spokesman told Germany’s DPA news agency.

Opel’s PACE business plan aims to achieve a 2% profit margin by 2020, largely by becoming more efficient and reducing costs. PSA has already reduced working hours at Opel’s German factories and cut jobs at Vauxhall’s UK factory in Ellesmere Port.

Manufacturers are calling into question the necessity of a presence at big automotive shows. Many are deciding to hold their own events, attend technology shows (such as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas) or attend smaller but more interactive events, such as the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Here, companies often have smaller stands with plenty of audience participation.

The UK’s London Motor Show also offers a different experience, with manufacturers getting involved through dealer groups, meaning vehicles can be tested and sales taken at the event. Held in Battersea Park in the centre of London during Spring Bank Holidays, the event markets itself as a family day out.

In contrast, the static, hands-off nature of big shows held in exhibition centres means these events risk becoming a simple museum of new ideas. With consumers often unable to touch, let alone sit in and sample, new models from carmakers, and craving interactivity in a modern world, there is a risk that more manufacturers may turn to their own or smaller, more intimate shows.

In addition, the huge costs to ensure products stand out are not achievable by some companies, especially those looking to move funds into electric vehicle development and autonomous car research. To make an impact, carmakers need big stands, or even an entire hall in order to enthuse the audience.

Last year’s IAA Frankfurt event saw some high profile absentees. Alfa Romeo, DS, Fiat, Infiniti, Jeep, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot and Volvo were not present at what is considered Europe’s biggest automotive event, while Ford, Volvo and Mazda missed the Paris show in 2016.

Geneva has not seen any other large manufacturer withdrawals, perhaps in part to Switzerland’s lack of its own automotive industry, meaning no pressure on manufacturers to compete against the domestic competition.