New technology to kill off traditional auto shows?
The announcement by Volvo Cars that it will not be at the 2019 Geneva auto show comes on top of the declarations by several OEMs that they will not attend and display at these great marketplaces. Volkswagen, Ford, Nissan and Infiniti will not be at Paris this autumn. Volvo has been a great leader in new technology and new methods of communication to its supply chain, dealers and customer base and it has said that its participation at other future auto shows can no longer be taken as a given; it said that it will focus on 'purpose-specific communications.'
Indeed, for many car makers automatic attendance at traditional industry events is no longer viable; Volvo spoke for many in the industry when it said that it must tailor its communications strategy to take best advantage of the options throughout the year for the messaging, timing and the nature of the technology it is to present.
And the word technology is key here. As consumers, we expect the latest and greatest tech from the carmakers, we want all the connectivity and Internet-savvy features we can get in every vehicle. The millennial generation expects to be sold the latest technology through the latest technology - online through the Internet.
It does seem paradoxical that virtual and other highly sophisticated technology new vehicle features continue to be exhibited in crowded halls where most of the attendees cannot even see the cars clearly and will have to queue up to see the new technologies demonstrated. Paradoxical, as these same customers would prefer in the main to go outside and browse the latest features of cars and other personal transport options on their mobile devices or wait until they get home to see them demonstrated online on their larger screens.
Timing is also a major factor in this new culture of online marketing; new vehicles were traditionally announced at set times in the year, to coincide with car shows and new registration timings. The industry created its own calendar, making the public wait excitedly for the following year’s models to be tantalisingly shown in the preceding autumn, generating early orders and helping smooth the production and supply chain for the OEMs. This system simply isn’t there any more; OEMs, constantly trying to steal a march on the competition will announce new models with the latest tech as soon as they can, without regard to the traditional calendar.
So it seems that the very technologies that will save the automobile may also kill off its oft-glamorous and exciting showplaces. If this means that the vast expense of fielding a major show presence might be passed on to the customer in lower prices or invested in more new technology, it may be a fitting evolution of the automotive industry.
Simon Duval Smith
Simon Duval Smith
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