With car show nixed, makers go online to launch new wheels

It's one of the most prestgious awards in the auto industry.

But as the Peugeot 208 snagged the car of the year title at the Geneva International Motorshow on Monday (March 2) night, the reception was significantly quieter.

Journalists were barred from attending the event, which normally marks the start of the show.

Switzerland has banned large events expected to draw more than 1,000 people in an attempt to curb the new coronavirus epidemic.

Tesla's Model 3 placed second, while Porsche's Taycan came third.

Tuesday should have been the big day for new car launches.

In fact, it still is, but the makers are having to do it all with live streaming.

First up was BMW and the launch of its Concept i4.

Speaking online from Munich BMW board member Pieter Nota said its China sales have taken a hit.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) BMW MANAGEMENT BOARD MEMBER PIETER NOTA, SAYING:

"Well, first of all, we regret that we can't be in Geneva today. But the safety of our people has, of course, our utmost priority. So it's good that we can still present the BMW Concept i4 here in our home base in Munich. Yes, the coronavirus has some impact, particularly in China at the moment. But it's also good to see that some indicators already in China pointing in the right direction again

BMW, which has factories in China, the U.S. and Europe, said its global supply chain has not been disrupted.

PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot, said it has managed to ensure European facilities have enough supplies to keep running.

Daimler also said supply chains are secure.

The Mercedes maker unveiled a number of new plugin hybrid models during the digital press day, including new versions of its CLA and GLA.

The company said that despite many sellers in China having re-opened, it remains too early to forecast the impact of the outbreak.