Several major car brands have launched new models exclusively online after the Geneva Motor Show was cancelled due to the coronavirus.

If the unveilings are seen as being successful it could mark a shift away from big industry events.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have live-streamed new models on their own channels as an alternative to the show.

Car makers have been hit hard as the virus has affected supply chains and consumer demand.

BMW was one of the major brands that had planned to launch new models at the Geneva Motor Show, which was due to open to the public today. It is one of the most important events in the global car industry’s calendar.

Instead, the German luxury car maker held a “digital press conference” to unveil its i4 electric concept car, while Mercedes-Benz announced its new E-Class in a similar way on Tuesday.

The motor show was cancelled last Friday after the Swiss government banned gatherings of 1,000 people or more due to concerns over the coronavirus. It’s the first time that the show has been called off since the World War Two.

“The entire automotive industry is undergoing a transformation, especially with regard to digitalisation. Of course, this also includes the way we present our products in the future,” said Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman Katja Rechtsteiner. But she added: “We ask ourselves the question: what is the best platform for our various topics? May it be digital or physical – we will therefore not opt for one or the other option in the future”.