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September 25, 2020

Tokyo Motor Show Organizers Considering All Options for 2021

The organizers of the Tokyo Motor Show are taking a wait-and-see approach to next year’s event as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts the international auto show circuit.

The biennial Tokyo Motor Show, scheduled to take place in the fall of next year may have to be re-imagined, or even possibly brought online, Akio Toyoda said Thursday, speaking in his role as chairman of the show’s organizing group, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association or JAMA.

Toyoda, who is also the president of Japan’s largest carmaker, Toyota, says the situation is currently unclear whether it would be possible to hold a physical event that draws crowds. With that, they are looking at new ways to organize such an event including possibly bringing it online.

JAMA is unsure of its plans for the 2021 Tokyo Motor Show as much of the international auto show schedule has been upended due to the pandemic. Organizers of the North American International Auto Show (aka Detroit Auto Show) said the next event will be held September 28 to October 9, 2021, after postponing plans to hold it in June 2020. The Los Angeles Auto Show, which had been scheduled to run November 20 to 29 this year, will now take place May 21 to 31, 2021.

Geneva show organizers have said it may return in March 2021, but only as a three-day, media-only event, while the 2021 Canadian International Auto Show has been confirmed to go completely online.

Meanwhile, in China, Auto China (Beijing) opens its doors on September 26 of this year, after moving back the date from an originally planned start in April. This is so far the only international caliber auto show to be held this year.

Toyoda is taking an optimistic stance for the Tokyo Motor Show, citing positive remarks about holding next summer’s Tokyo Olympics that were recently made by the chairman of the International Olympic Committee. If the Olympics go ahead in 2021, so too might the auto show, Toyoda reasoned. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were set to open last month but were postponed when the pandemic hit.

The Tokyo Motor Show has struggled in recent years, amid falling visitor turnout and disinterest from automakers, many of which would rather spend their auto show marketing budget in China.

But last year, under Toyoda’s leadership and a new push to reinvigorate the event, the Tokyo Motor Show met an ambitious attendance target by exceeding 1 million visitors. The 2019 show drew 1.3 million people, a 70 percent surge over the 771,200 who attended the biennial show in 2017.

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