Geneva’s new Exhibition and Congress Centre (Palexpo), located close to the airport and the current CFF railway station, opened its doors on 18 December 1981. In January 1982, Palexpo hosted its first event, the International Utility Vehicle Show, followed in March by the Geneva International Motor Show. The appeal of the new centre, one of the most modern in Europe, produced a new record audience in 1982, with 745,919 admissions across the two events.
In 1985, the organising committee of the Geneva International Motor Show was forced to find a solution to the development of the Heavy Goods Vehicle Show, for which it lacked space. In 1987, this led to Transpublic, the International Public Transport and Municipal Services Show. This specialist exhibition was designed to showcase all passenger transport and municipal vehicles and also featured rail and cable transport, as well as airport infrastructure. Two Transpublic events were held in Geneva, in 1987 and 1989.
Over the years, Palexpo has grown. The 600,000 visitors mark was reached in 1988, followed by 700,000 in 2000. A peak of 747,700 admissions was reached at the 75th event in 2005, marking the Show’s 100th anniversary. In late 2008, the global economy suffered a difficult period, which affected multiple sectors, including the automotive industry. Despite the challenging times, all manufacturers continued to exhibit at Geneva’s major automotive event. Nonetheless, attendance at the show fell below the 700,000 visitors mark in 2009 and 2010, before bouncing back to 735,000, the second-best result in all time, in 2011.