Beijing show goes on — but not with execs

Delayed from late April, the Beijing auto show is set to begin on Sept. 26, making it the sole survivor, so far, of all the major international auto exhibitions canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether anyone attends is another matter.

The pandemic has remained largely contained inside China since mid-March, and no new domestic infections had been reported for 18 consecutive days as of Wednesday, Sept. 2.

But there is no way for the Beijing show to escape its impact.

Because of the pandemic and travel restrictions China has imposed, most international automakers have chosen not to send executives to the show, according to a survey of companies by Automotive News.

Among the companies to pass on attending are China’s two largest players, Volkswagen Group and General Motors. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford Motor and PSA Group also do not plan to attend.

Missing, too, will be Germany’s three big luxury brands — Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — even though China is by far the largest market for each of them.

Only a few global automakers, including Hyundai and Mazda, said earlier this month that they are still finalizing plans and remain undecided.

As September started, only one international brand intended to arrange for its senior executives to fly to China for the show: Polestar, the electrified performance-vehicle brand jointly owned by Volvo Cars and its Chinese parent, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath will participate in person, according to the company.

But Volvo confirmed to Automotive News that it will not send anyone from outside China to the show.

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