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Tokyo Motor Show Canceled for the First Time Since 1954

The Tokyo Motor Show is an event that happened every other year in Japan but will not go on this year. Though the event has been popular for more than 60 years, the complications were too much to work through. The car show hopes to revamp and come back next year.

The Tokyo Motor Show has been canceled

A Mercedes on display at the Tokyo Motor Show 2019
A Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Auto News said Akio Toyoda, Toyota president of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), announced that the rising COVID-19 cases are the cause for cancellation on Monday. For the first time in 67 years, the show will not take place.

According to a New York Times article, Prime Minister Yoshihide Squga has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and Osaka. The restrictions will be in place until at least May 11.

The show survived the Great Recession in 2009, the earqthquake/tsunami disaster in 2011, and everything in between, but could not weather this storm. The Olympics are slated to begin in July.

A rebranding as the Tokyo Mobility Show

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Moving forward, the event will be rebranded as the Tokyo Mobility Show. Organizers hope to have the event in 2022 or 2023, but that is still to be determined. It is the hope that with a reinvented and fresh idea, the auto show can attract more visitors.

“We have concluded that it will be difficult to offer our main programs where many visitors get to experience attractive features of mobility in a safe environment,” Toyoda said. He also asked for the support of visitors when it does return.

While many events have turned to online and live-streaming platforms to hold events, Toyoda noted this kind of event had to be held in person. With motorbikes, cars, SUVs, and other kinds of vehicles on display, it is important to experience that in person.

“As such, we would like to prioritize having visitors experience these vehicles in the real world, and we would rather hold the event in the real world, not virtually. So, we have decided to cancel the event.”

Akio Toyoda | JAMA

Back in 2019, Toyoda had a goal of attracting one million visitors to the show. The show finished after 12 days with 1.3 million visitors. In 2017, the tally was at 771,200 visitors.

In 1991, the Tokyo motor show had a record 2.02 million people in attendance.

It wasn’t just one factor

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Auto News notes that there are a few reasons for the cancellation. In 2019, only a few major brands participated in the event. These brands were Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Renault, and Alpine. Due to a lack of exciting and exotic brands, there was less of a draw to the event. In 2019, the Mercedes EQS concept car even made an appearance.

The organizers tried to make the event more of a theme park style event. The organization offered free tickets to younger guests to get more people in. That worked well enough in 2019, and the plan was to continue in that direction this year.

Unfortunately, that did not pan out. Essentially no major events happened last year and have not happened this year, which is no organizers’ fault. If the Tokyo Olympics go forward, it will be quite a feat for everyone involved.