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Are Motor Shows still relevant in Australia?

This week we were informed that the Australian International Motor Show (AIMS), scheduled for Melbourne in June this year, has been cancelled.

AIMS Event Director, Russ Tyrie, said: “We have made the decision to not proceed with this year’s Show based on a consensus view of the Automotive Industry to focus limited marketing budgets in 2013 on firm specific activities rather than an industry based Motor Show.

“In not proceeding with the Show in 2013, Australia is following a global trend that has been apparent for several years, where cities do not always have a Motor Show. This trend is evident in the recent suspension of Motor Shows in London, Zagreb and Amsterdam,” Tyrie continued.

In 2009, a joint venture was formed between the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries- organisers of the Sydney Motor Show- and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce who co-ordinated the Melbourne show.

Their agreement saw a shared arrangement where each city would share AIMS responsibilities, hosting the show on alternating years. The venture sought to ensure enough manufacturer and public interest in Australian shows rather than competing for attendance and revenue each year.

Ford EcoBoost display at the 2011 AIMS

Now, with manufacturers moving towards different areas of promotion (for example, associating with major events like BMW at the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival or sponsoring a sporting team like Renault has the Port Adelaide Football Club) the question needs to be asked: Is the Australian Motor Show on the verge of extinction?

The AIMS organisers have been adamant that they will return in 2014, but with a new focus on the Asia-Pacific region. This bodes well, and I for one hope they return with a vengeance, but several challenges lie in the way. For one, our population is not big enough to truly justify a massive brand presence, the like of which is seen at Tokyo, Geneva or New York. Related is the sheer distance we lie away from the global manufacturer bases. Big European brands are particularly limited by time and budget constraints, putting the clamps on just what they can do with their local promotional opportunities.

Also shifting are the public’s perceptions, and that’s where you come in. With the multitude of information available online augmenting traditional print channels, do you still feel a need to attend a motor show physically? Does the motor show model remain a worthwhile manufacturer showcase? Would you still prefer to attend a show when looking for a new car, or is it easier to research online?