Local auto shows overseas like the one in Bologna don't really make a blip on our radar screens. Manufacturers might, upon occasion, use the venues to unveil a new product variant of generally limited consequence, but aside from the big shows in the United States, the significant foreign debuts for the U.S. market take place at the major shows like Geneva, Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo. But if you thought the big shows were hit hard by a cost-conscious industry in remission, that's nothing compared to what Bologna's local show organizers are facing.

When we say "local shows," we're not talking about small towns, either: we're talking about the biggest shows in some of the biggest markets. After many major automakers withdrew, the organizers of the British Motor Show had to cancel the event for 2010. Barcelona's show has gone ahead, but only after significant government incentives. Now organizers of the Bologna Motor Show, the largest in Italy, have announced that the show must go on... despite the withdrawal of every major automaker that was expected to display there.

Last year's show in Bologna drew nearly a million spectators, keen to see what the industry had to offer under one roof. But the Fiat group – which comprises the vast majority of the country's carmakers – informed the organizers it wouldn't be participating. An offer was made to provide the space free of charge, but the remaining costs proved too high (vehicle transport, erecting a display, staffing, etc.), and shortly after, the rest of the industry followed suit, leaving the show with nothing to show. That hasn't deterred the organizers, however, who have shortened the run time from nine days to five and loaded it with motorsport displays in the adjacent stadium. Thus, the diehards will have something to flock to, but nobody's expecting the show to come anywhere near previous attendance numbers.

[Source: Bologna Motor Show]