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Postponed: New York International Auto Show

Late Tuesday afternoon, the organizers of the New York International Auto Show announced that its annual show was postponed. Originally scheduled to run April 10-19th, the show was rescheduled for August 28th through September 6, 2020. Mark Schienberg, President of the New York Automobile Dealers Association, said the move was being made to protect “attendees, exhibitors, and all participants from the Coronavirus.”

A Century of Shows

The show was first organized in 1900. This is the first time the show schedule has been disrupted since World War II. During the war, the show was canceled for two years. Since then, the event has grown to be one of the most respected in the automotive industry, with manufacturers often having big debut events for new models. 

Coronavirus Volunteer Driver
CHONGQING, Feb. 7, 2020 — Volunteer driver Guo Gaoping cleans a commute car for frontline health workers in Yunyang County, southwest China’s Chongqing, Feb. 6, 2020. | Photo by Wang Quanchao/Xinhua via Getty

W.H.O.

The show was originally scheduled a month from now, but the uncertainty around Coronavirus has many organizers of all near term large events waiting to see what happens. The Coronavirus has spread so quickly that the World Health Organization on their website Wednesday declared, “COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.” So, event organizers around the world are taking a step back to gauge the still unknown health impact. 

New York Stock Exchange - Ford Motor Co.
Ford Motor Co. signage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange | Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

World Markets

The virus has not been playing nicely with world markets either. They are grappling to identify how it will affect their worker’s lives and productivity. According to the press release posted on the New York International Auto Show website, the show contributes $330 million to the local economy.

Buying Time

Rescheduling the auto show may buy some time for the world to come together and agree on the best course of action in responding, containing, and treating the Coronavirus. Until then, the New York International Auto Show has fallen into the uncertainty that organizers of all large events are currently facing. Yet, the responses have been inconsistent. Last month the annual Geneva Auto Show was canceled. But, just Wednesday morning, the organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix determined to embrace the race and hold their event as scheduled this weekend. 

Formula One Grand Prix - Lewis Hamilton
Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton | Marco Serena/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Large Scale

Over one million people visit the Javits Center every year just for the New York International Auto Show. To make even small changes, such as installing additional sanitization stations, becomes a tremendous undertaking for the organizers. Securing enough sanitizer and handwashing stations could become a sourcing problem when the rest of the world is looking to do the same thing for all of their large events. New York is not a stranger to doing things big, though. 

Not Like Geneva

The Geneva Motor show was canceled only a few days before it was scheduled to open its doors due to new government restrictions on the large gatherings. Auto manufacturers also use that event for big announcements. The late announcement meant manufacturers had to scramble to come up with digital unveilings. The New York show will be different because it is being postponed, not canceled. So, unveilings are still something to look forward to. However, many vendors that were preparing for the show may already have unrecoverable costs.