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Perth and Brisbane set to resuscitate motor shows

Out west: Holden's Coupe 60 show car on display at the Perth motor show in 2008.

Regional motor shows back on the drawing board as retailers push for local exposure

25 Jan 2011

AUSTRALIA is likely have three motor shows a year by 2012, with regional shows in Perth and Brisbane back on the agenda alongside the national show that now alternates between Sydney and Melbourne.

Perth’s motor show is set to resume this August after a three-year hiatus, and Brisbane’s motor trade is hoping to kick-start its event within 12 months after also sitting on the sidelines since 2008.

Until the global financial crisis, the Perth and Brisbane shows were fixtures on the Australian motor scene, along with annual shows in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

But cash-strapped motor manufacturers and importers elected to support only one national show, starting with Sydney in 2010.

This year’s Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) will be held in Melbourne in the new, preferred mid-year time slot, starting on July 1.

The three-day 2011 Perth Motor Show is set to be held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre on August 19-21 – little more than a month after AIMS.

Using innovative Chinese-made inflatable walls for stands to reduce set-up costs, and a central stage to showcase a stream of new models as part of the overall entertainment, show organisers in Perth are attempting to devise a sustainable regional show that does not rely on big dollars from head office.

The Perth show is being staged by Premiere Events on behalf of the Motor Trade Association of Western Australia (MTAWA) and WA Chamber of Automotive Industries (WACAI).

Premiere Events managing director Peter Woods said the traditional motor show model had been unsustainable, with big-build show stands requiring investment from car manufacturers.

But he said demand was strong for a motor show in Perth, which attracted more than 60,000 people to its most recent show in 2008.

“So we have to have a new format for a new environment, one that is sustainable at a regional level,” he said.

Mr Woods said the new format, with more affordable displays and central stage show, had been trialled with success at the company’s 2010 Perth Motorcycle Show, which attracted more people than similar events in Melbourne and Sydney.

 center imageLeft: Crowds flock to the 2008 Perth motor show at the Perth Exhibition Centre. Below: Even fashion took centre stage in Perth's motor show.

Organisers of the Perth motor show say the August timing – just a few weeks after the national show in Melbourne – will be a positive, with new models that debut in Melbourne being fast-tracked to Perth.

In a press release announcing the resumption of the Perth event, WACAI’s Howard Croxon described the timing of the event as ideal, allowing WA audiences to view new releases launched at AIMS.

“The Perth Motor Show will run after the AIMS, and will be an opportunity for the West Australian motor industry to present their best new products,” said Mr Croxon.

More than Melbourne or Sydney, the Perth and Brisbane shows traditionally have been more retail oriented, with closer ties to local dealerships.

Efforts by Brisbane’s show organisers – the Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ) and promoter Expertise Events – to resume the local event at the Brisbane Exhibition Centre last year were thwarted by lack of interest from a sufficient number of car companies at a national level.

The two organisations are now preparing for another attempt, most likely in 2012, by which time they hope to convince a quorum of key companies to provide support for their local regional offices and Brisbane dealers wanting to book a show stand.

MTAQ principal policy director Richard Payne told GoAuto that the organisation was unlikely to revive the Brisbane show this year, but hoped to resume in 2012.

He said the 2010 event had fallen over because a couple of major manufacturers had declined to support the show, saying they did not have the budget.

“This time, we plan to get in up front and give them plenty of time to get it (show expenses) into their annual budgets,” he said.

The running of the Brisbane show is handled by Sydney-based Expertise Events, whose CEO Gary Fitz-Roy told GoAuto that the show was still part of his company’s big-picture plans.

“We put a lot of time, money and effort into establishing it, but the truth is, the event will only happen with the support of the manufacturers,” he said.

“There were really two manufacturers who caused it not to happen last time (2010), they being Toyota and Mitsubishi. Toyota is pretty important, given their position in the marketplace.

“At the end of the day, it is dependent on the manufacturers to support the retailers.

“One could argue at the moment that it would be quite timely, with the amount of people who have had cars destroyed or lost (in the floods) and who are going to have to replace them. It would be a really good stimulus.

“I would like to hold it this year, with part of the gate going back to Queensland flood relief, like we are doing with a whole lot of other shows.”

Mr Fitz-Roy said the motor show could be hurriedly organised for this year, as his company had already done the preparation for the 2010 event.

“If we have universal buy-in, it would be just a matter of pulling out that folder with all the plans already made. Can we do it? The short answer is yes.

“But if we can’t get that buy-in, then it is a matter of working towards 2012.”

Mr Fitz-Roy said he still favoured a June slot because that was when manufacturers had end-of-financial-year sales events and wanted maximum exposure.

Next year, with AIMS moving back to October because Sydney’s Darling Harbour venue is not available in July, that slot becomes more viable, if only for a year.

Brisbane’s show was traditionally held in February – the first such event of the year.

At a national level, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) – representing the motor manufacturers and importers – is committed to the one-show policy.

The FCAI previously ran the Sydney motor show, but now runs the new national show jointly with the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).

The two organisations agreed to the partnership after major motor companies balked at paying large sums of money for multiple shows each year, a situation that came to a head during the global financial crisis in 2008.

AIMS director Russ Tyrie said the industry had settled on a one-national-show model, and was happy with it.

“I suppose there are opportunities to look at these sorts of things (regional shows), but I think the response at the Sydney show (last October) shows the industry is embracing the (national show) model as the principal event in Australia,” he said.

Mr Tyrie said the July school holiday date, away from major overseas shows, would help to reinvigorate the show.

The fact that it would be held only every second year in Melbourne and Sydney would also heighten anticipation.

AIMS 2010 in Sydney attracted 139,000 visitors – slightly up on the 2008 event but well down on pre-GFC 2007’s 244,000.

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