We’re about to approach Solutrans 2021, a major European exhibition in the field of commercial vehicles and one of the very first live shows scheduled after the outburst of the pandemic, last year. Before attending the trade fair, which will be held in Lyon from 16 to 20 November, we had the opportunity to have a very pleasant chat with Jean-Sébastien Guichaoua, who’s about to live the first edition as Director of Solutrans. «Personally, I’m very confident about Solutrans 2021», he told us. «With my team, we’ve been working on the show for quite a long time and we’re happy to be able to welcome people to a live event, after two very challenging years».
Solutrans 2021, here we go
What does it mean to be able to carry out the exhibition this year, after the pandemic?
«First of all, I want to say that I’m so happy we managed to organize this edition of Solutrans after a couple of years that were incredibly difficult for everybody. Actually, as Solutrans we’ve been quite lucky, as the last edition was at the end of 2019, right before the outburst of the pandemic, so we didn’t have to postpone the show. As Comexposium we organize several shows all over the world and I must say the exhibitions organized so far were successful and I’m really confident about Solutrans 2021».
Which limitations or safety rules are foreseen in view of November?
«Of course, visitors need to wear face masks and show the green pass to enter. There will be the possibility to carry out Covid tests, so we’re sure all the people will be vaccinated or tested. Then, we’ll have the highest care and attention to sanification and hand disinfection».
What are your expectations in terms of visitors? And how was the response of exhibitors?
«So far, 93 percent of the exhibition area is booked with the major truck manufacturers who will attend the exhibitions. Among these, Ford Trucks is going to participate for the first time. We also have some of the big brands in light commercial vehicles: Ford, Iveco, MAN, Volkswagen just to mention a few, and some more may join the exhibition in the next weeks. In the last edition, we had around 900 exhibitors, while this year we hope we can reach more than 1,000 exhibitors. Currently, 26 percent of our exhibitors come from abroad, particularly from Europe.
Talking about visitors, we have to consider travel restrictions that are involving Far Eastern and American countries, for instance. Anyway, we’re expecting 60,000 visitors (Solutrans 2019 had about 56,000 visitors) and normally around 70 percent of them come to Lyon to buy. We’re happy to give them an opportunity to do business live, not in front of a screen anymore. We believe we can welcome even more people compared to 2019 then, despite the pandemic and travel restrictions from several important countries».
In the future I believe that virtual shows won’t replace live shows at all. We’ve seen some companies trying to cut their budget but then they changed their mind. I can imagine hybrid shows, with the help of digital technologies for instance. These tools are very advanced and can help companies spread their messageJean-Sébastien Guichaoua
The main highlights? Innovation and energy transition
Which are the main highlights of Solutrans 2021? And what is the added value of an exhibition like Solutrans in the current and future scenario of trade events related to light- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles?
We managed to add 10,000 square meters compared to 2019, reaching 90,000 square meters, as well as an additional pavilion, Hall 1, focused on innovations and new technologies, as the demand for innovation and disruptive solutions is growing indeed.
According to the French Bodywork Federation, the owners of Solutrans, the 2019 edition was a real success and now we have all the premises to do even better. The sector is quite dynamic and the outlooks are good, despite some issues related to shortage of components like, for instance, semiconductors.
Also, we are an international show and we have a role to play as organizers of this show. We reflect the economic trend. A lot of politicians will join us, not only from France. The frontiers are luckily open in Europe and we expect a lot of visitors from European nations.
In addition, Solutrans can rely on one of the biggest test trucks in Europe, Piste d’Essai. Most of the exhibitors will use the truck to put on display, for instance, electric or hydrogen-powered trucks.
Alternative fuels; electric vehicles; hydrogen and fuel cells. What will we see in Lyon this year?
Energy transition is happening. We are going to welcome some new exhibitors, such as Irizar or Volta Trucks, who are approaching the truck market. Solutrans is a show with a focus on quality and with a highlight on innovation.
Also, we’ve invested on digital solutions to help exhibitors promoting their products and solutions also using new technologies.
Vehicles are about to change, as well as their components, with new companies approaching the market of commercial vehicles especially in the fields of software, batteries, energy, infrastructure. Are you experiencing an increased interest from companies that did not use to be part of this sector?
Hall 1 will host some small or big companies involved mainly in energy management. One clear example is TotalEnergies under their new name who’s one of the main sponsors of the show. Some companies who did not attend the last show will take part in this year’s exhibition.
As a new Director of the show, one of my main targets was to develop the light commercial segment, that’s why I’m very proud of some of the companies who’re going to be in Lyon. We will also have the announcements of some major international awards during Solutrans.
The role of professional trade shows, from now on
We’re in the middle of a huge energy transition in mobility, also favoured by stricter legislations, not only in Europe. What is supposed to be the role of international exhibitions in the current scenario? They might give a boost to such a transition?
Energy transition will the major topic of our conference programme, with a lot of events focused on the development of alternative fuels, hydrogen, electric vehicles and so on. We believe many visitors will be interested in learning more on these topics indeed.
Talking about trade fairs, why are they still crucial in the current market, despite the intensive use of virtual events due to the pandemic? What’s your view on exhibitions in the future?
Especially for professional trade shows, in the future I believe that virtual shows won’t replace live shows at all. We’ve seen some companies trying to cut their budget but then they changed their mind. I can imagine hybrid shows, with the help of digital technologies for instance. These tools are very advanced and can help companies spread their message. As I already said, we decided to invest on behalf of our exhibitors to give visitors even more possibilities to exploit the show. However, people are still eager to attend live shows.