Shimmering skyscrapers, desert backdrops and 40C (104F) heat — not what you’d usually expect at the Geneva International Motor Show, but that’s the setting for this year’s event as it shifts to Qatar’s capital Doha.
(Bloomberg) — Shimmering skyscrapers, desert backdrops and 40C (104F) heat — not what you’d usually expect at the Geneva International Motor Show, but that’s the setting for this year’s event as it shifts to Qatar’s capital Doha.
Returning after a three-year hiatus due to Covid, the exhibition also known as GIMS opens Thursday with 30 automakers taking part, from luxury sports brands Lamborghini and McLaren to mass-market names like Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG.
“GIMS is excited to expand its legacy in the Middle East, venturing for the first time outside Geneva,” said Sandro Mesquita, chief executive officer of the auto show, adding that the event will bridge the gap between the automotive industries in the West and East.
Saad Bin Ali Al Kharji, deputy chairman of Qatar Tourism, said hosting large, globally recognized events such as the auto show is part of a strategic vision to become the fastest-growing destination in the Middle East by 2030.
The highest-profile event Qatar has hosted was the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The motor show will coincide with the Qatar Formula One Grand Prix, to be held under lights at the Lusail International Circuit on Sunday.
Why Geneva in Doha?
In 2021, the country struck a 10-year deal with GIMS organizers to hold the 118-year-old event every two years from 2023. The spring exhibition in Switzerland, held annually until the pandemic struck, will resume in 2024.
VW’s managing director in the Middle East, Matthias Ziegler, said the show is an opportunity to engage with local customers and exhibit new vehicles coming to the region, which the German automaker has described as pivotal.
The six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, recorded 2.75 million new vehicle registrations last year, according to consultancy Jato Dynamics. That’s a fraction of the 20.54 million passenger cars sold in China, but on par with the 2.65 million registered in Germany.
Who Is There?
With countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates setting climate-change goals and trying to diversify their energy mix, at least three electric-vehicle brands are exhibiting at the show in Doha.
California-based Lucid Group Inc., which just opened a factory in Saudi Arabia, is expected to showcase new editions of its Air EV, and spectators are waiting to see if sport utility vehicle Gravity will make an appearance. Vinfast Auto Ltd., which was founded by Vietnam’s richest man Pham Nhat Vuong and is way behind its lofty sales targets, is also taking part, along with Silk, a little-known hybrid and EV luxury brand from China’s FAW Group Co. and Italy’s Silk EV.
Market leaders Tesla Inc. and BYD Co. are absent, however. Neither company responded to requests for comments.
Legacy brands are showcasing their EVs too. Mercedes-Benz AG’s Qatar distributor is launching the luxury marque’s all-electric range, a milestone in the country’s journey to sustainable mobility, the Gulf Times reported, citing Sheikh Faleh bin Nawaf bin Nasser al-Thani, a managing director at Nasser Bin Khaled (NBK) Automobiles.
With several auto shows including Paris and New York rethinking how to stay relevant after the pandemic accelerated the trend of carmakers pulling back on exhibitions and instead focusing on online launches, private events and test drives, Doha could provide a test case for reaching new audiences.
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