As some of you know, I am a big fan of the Geneva International Motor Show or GIMS for short. So, you can imagine my shocked surprise when I heard that the 90th edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak and only three days before the press event! A year without one of the world’s most mammoth automotive events! What was a closet petrol head to do?
More importantly, what was I going to write about since I clearly wasn’t going to be on the road anytime soon? Plus I admit, I was totally looking forward to going this year since I was a little out of the automotive loop having taken a short sojourn into the marine and consumer goods industries last year with Royal IHC and Electrolux respectively.
How were the auto industry players really handling trends like electrification, digitalization and connectivity? Especially after working on those pioneering digital journeys in 2018 and 2019 about Uniti and the Zbee, I wanted to see first hand how the bigger players in the auto industry were responding. But alas, it was deemed a non-event this year.
Enter the GIMS Digital Twin
And then…technology takes over and a digital twin (of sorts) popped into my mailbox. An invitation to the GIMS Virtual Press Day. (It was still online at press time if you are interested: www.gimsvirtualpressday.ch/pressday)
Those savvy Swiss, they couldn’t hold the real thing so they decided to do the next best thing and create a virtual event by live streaming individual press events from Europe’s automotive hotspots including Munich, Stuttgart and even Geneva itself.
Check out one of my favorites “The Show Must Go On” from Koenigsegg. It hit 13,530 views in its first 25 minutes online, which is a lot of people watching a virtual press conference about a Swedish super-car company. (By the way, Christian von Koenigsegg was happy to report that production levels were up to about 1 car per week and that his mother helped name the Gemera.)
Even better than the real thing?
Even if it seems that the digital twin of the Geneva International Motor Show press event is somewhat of a success, I bet I am not alone when I say I miss the glamour and buzz of the real thing. It just isn’t the same sitting in your yoga pants and speed-scrolling through YouTube press calls. (Although I must admit, it is really efficient work-wise and good for coronavirus-related health and safety issues, of course.)
But even the best professional picture or most brilliantly edited YouTube video isn’t the same as seeing these masterpieces of engineering in the carbon-fiber, so to speak. I miss the pure physical tactility of all those cars, all that tech and innovation and, honestly, all the fuss. Sure, it is just frosting on the cake: a big, expensive party to sell cars, but honestly there is something about the glitz-n-glam of the Geneva International Motor Show: from the million-euro sports cars with highly buffed paint jobs spinning in spotlights to the well-dressed stand crews equipped with traditional feather dusters to keep every single car picture-perfect ready.
And finally the Karma Revero in Europe…or not.
And there are some things that a virtual press event can’t cover. I personally was really looking forward to checking out the Karma Revero live in person. (Luckily there is an excellent digital journey (see above) that my colleagues whipped up about how Siemens and Simcenter helped this California EV automaker with some of the finer engineering details.
Battle of the big stands: Daimler & BMW
And there is always something to see at the friendly “battle of the big stands” between Daimler and BMW. (Side note: Daimler’s recently retired CEO Dieter Zetsche always had the best jokes according to me. By the way, if you haven’t seen this video where BMW celebrates Dieter Zetsche’s retirement, you should. It’s funny…
And speaking of BMW, they were online bright and early on March 3rd with news about their answer to Tesla: the much-awaited BMWi4. Even though it was shown as a concept, BMW says that it is not that far off from being a production model. Now that is saying something about how much the world of automotive has changed…
In 2021, pack it to the brim with the world’s best wheels
So after a rather successful and low-cost day and a half with the digital twin of the Geneva International Motor Show press event, some might say, why bother with all the hype next year? I disagree. If you want my two cents’ worth: I am for the real thing. It is one of the world’s premium showcases of automotive trends and engineering. But don’t get me wrong, the global trend towards digitalization and connectivity means that digital twins of everything from supercars to press events will become the norm rather than the exception. And as a Simcenter storyteller, I am quite happy that we had a little “digital twin” of the GIMS this year, but like every true car aficionado, I am already looking forward to the real thing next year.
The Geneva International Motor Show was scheduled to open from March 5-15, 2020. The 2021 edition is scheduled for March 4-14, 2021.