Opinion: Is This the End of Motor Shows as we Know it?

Well, not in those countries where the global balance has shifted. However, the concept of a motor show is ripe for disruption.

By Srinivas Krishnan | on March 23, 2024 Follow us on Autox Google News

Last year, a dear friend who’s a motoring journalist colleague-turned-787 Dreamliner pilot (yes!) asked whether I was making plans to meet him in Doha in October. I had no such plans, and definitely not to visit Doha. He thought maybe I would be attending the 2023 Geneva International Motor Show, that’s why he called. I told him I wasn’t going to attend the Geneva show either. Besides, what is the link between the show and the Gulf country? Why this bizarre line of questioning? Then he stopped teasing me and said that the Geneva Motor Show in 2023 is being held in Doha, Qatar. What…

Cut to 2024, and reports from the recently concluded Geneva International Motor Show at, well, Geneva have just come in, and whatever I have read so far, it seems to be a pale shadow of its former self. The GIMS@G (as opposed to the GIMS@D) never had the size of a Frankfurt or Paris show, but with a legacy of over 100 years, it punched above its weight with the variety of participants and diversity of concept unveils. But this year, only Renault/Dacia among the significant European brands participated, and none of the Japanese ones did. The space and attention were taken over by – that’s right – the Chinese. Does this hint at the future of the European auto shows? Hmm.

Back to India. Last month, I was at the Bharat Mobility Show, an event that was so obviously hurriedly put together that no one knew what was going on. The nodal ministry was not even the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, but the Ministries of Commerce and Heavy Industry. The date of February 1 for the first day didn’t seem to be thought through either, considering it is a fixed day for the Union Budget (or a Vote on Account, as it was this election year).

Participants had to scramble to put together some coherent displays, especially the OEMs who are extremely strategic, methodical and well-planned in what they want to show or don’t show at an expo. Perhaps it was a little easier for Tier-1 companies as they could display their wares as is rather than what will be. But not that easy either, considering the tight deadline for the event and the need to stump up money, resources, manpower and effort to salvage participation in a short three-day show. That’s why, despite the PM’s presence, there were not many big unveils, launches or technology demonstrators at BMS this year – given that expos are great platforms to do exactly that. Now we hear that the BMS will be an annual event, and the biennial Auto Expo will be subsumed into it. The annual frequency can be punishing for OEMs, Tier-1 and all other regular auto show participants. Many of the large international motor shows like Frankfurt, Paris and now Shanghai are held every two years for a reason.

That said, the concept of a Bharat Mobility Show vis-à-vis the Auto Expo is an idea whose time has come. The BMS is timely and is a reflection of where the industry is headed. The overall idea of a mobility show instead of an auto show is a step in the right direction, as the entire industry is getting disrupted. In an auto show, the OEMS lord over it, but in a mobility show, the partners who are collaborating to co-create this disruption get a place under the spotlight. At the end of it, an ICE car or a two-wheeler is the sum of thousands of parts plus brand attributes. But with disruptive and intelligent electric, connected vehicles and services, it is not addition but multiplication.

There is a new ecosystem being developed with stronger interaction and dependence between the players than it ever has been with ICE, where the OEM is at the very centre of a complex web. In a mobility ecosystem, it should be tomorrow’s customer or user of clean, safe and comfortable transportation who is at the centre of this disruption. When you look at it this way, the concept of what mobility truly sinks in.

The BMS therefore can go beyond a traditional auto show, and shift the world’s focus to India, and it also presents an opportunity to showcase the global potential of mobility innovations that have worked for one-sixth of humanity! Since we’re talking about the ‘Bharat’ Mobility Show, and not the ‘Delhi’ Auto Expo, it could be held in other cities too instead of only New Delhi. Beats ‘Geneva’ International Motor Show at ‘Doha’.

Tags: Bharat Mobility Expo Auto Expo Geneva International Motor Show

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