'Virtual' car launches to replace Geneva show - here’s what to expect
Geneva - With coronavirus fears having led to the cancellation of the Geneva Motor Show just four days before it was scheduled to open to the press, car companies have had to make last-minute plans to stage ‘virtual’ launches of the new products that were scheduled to be revealed at the show.
And rather than spread these launches out over the week to ensure a more steady flow of news, most carmakers have decided to jam pack their e-conferences into Tuesday morning, in accordance with what would have been the show’s schedule.
However, Alfa Romeo will be bucking the Tuesday trend with an online reveal at 5:30pm (SA time) on Monday, where it is expected to announce the return of the iconic GTA badge.
Mercedes-Benz will be forging ahead with the reveal of its extensively updated E-Class at 9:45am SA time from a studio at its head office in Stuttgart and the carmaker is also expected to announce new eco-friendlier engine derivatives and technologies for some of its other models.
On the subject of green, BMW will be pulling the covers off its new Concept i4, virtually of course, at 9:15am. The i4, which is closely related to the BMW 3 Series, is expected to thrust BMW’s electric car game into the mainstream.
Volkswagen will also be sticking to its original Geneva time slot with a digital press conference scheduled for 10:10am on Tuesday, although it’s not clear whether we will see anything new. For now the company is only mentioning the Touareg R as well as the Golf GTI, GTD and GTE hatches, which have already been revealed online, however the company will probably release more details on these vehicles, including the much-awaited performance figures.
Audi was due to reveal its all-new A3 Sportback at the Geneva show, and it still plans to do so digitally, with an e-conference planned for 8:50am.
Bentley will be showcasing its two-seat Mulliner Bacalar at a virtual press conference at 10:30am on Tuesday. It will be only the second two-seat Bentley to be released since 1930.
At exactly the same time, fellow British carmaker McLaren will stage the global reveal of “the next chapter in the McLaren LT (longtail) story, in addition to other product and business updates.
Porsche will join in the action at 11:10 on Tuesday with its new 911 Turbo S flagship.
Aston Martin has been sensible enough to stage its presser on Wednesday at 10am (SA time), although we’ll have to wait until then to find out exactly what’s in store.
Toyota and Hyundai are also expected to stage virtual press conferences in place of their Geneva events, but timing had not been available at the time of writing.
The Geneva Motor Show was cancelled on Friday after Switzerland banned large events that draw more than 1000 people, in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 160 exhibitors were scheduled to show off their products and services at the Geneva show, and its cancellation will deal a big blow to car companies that spent huge sums of money on their show presence. The exhibitors will not be refunded as it was the health authorities rather than the organisers that called off the event, however visitor tickets will be refunded.
Be sure to watch this space for all the new product reveals as they happen.