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Strong interest in 2015 motor show

Touchy feely: Ford’s outdoor display at the 2012 Sydney motor show proved that a more interactive format could be a better alternative to a traditional static display.

Car companies show strong early interest in revamped 2015 Melbourne motor show

27 May 2014

CAR companies have already shown strong interest in participating in the new Australian Motoring Festival to be held at the Melbourne showgrounds in March next year, even before promotional materials have been sent out.

The co-promoters, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), will begin making formal presentations to interested parties this week in a bid to secure some early acceptances for what is billed as a “motor show plus”.

GoAuto understands that exhibition space will be limited at the venue, and that the organisers will be investing more than $400,000 in a temporary test-drive track that will be a key part of the four-day festival.

As GoAuto has reported, the event will break from motor show tradition by offering interactive activities like test drives of cars and SUVs and test rides of new motorcycles.

There will also be a variety of entertainment options, with the promoters hoping to reinvent the almost-defunct drive-in movie theatre at the showgrounds.

If a manufacturer or manufacturers have the cars available, the audience will be seated in rows of new cars, so they can watch ads for the car and also a film, all the time becoming familiar with the cars.

“Already it’s creating a lot of interest, not only among the media,” said VACC executive director David Purchase.

“We are also having calls from manufacturers wanting to know what’s going on.” Mr Purchase said he was confident the festival would attract exhibits from around 25 car manufacturers, including volume-selling brands and luxury marques.

The major difference compared to the previous static motor shows will be the chance to drive new vehicles on a track that will be prepared on the tarmac section of the Melbourne showgrounds.

“It’s quite a large area they tell us we can get up to speeds of 40 to 50km/h but I’m not sure we will need to be doing that,” Mr Purchase said.

“There will also be an outdoor track, a four-wheel drive track, with up and down sections and through water.

“These will give a much more interactive experience than the static motor shows.” The tarmac area in question has previously been used by the Top Gear road show, but Mr Purchase emphasised that there would be no high-jinks at the festival.

“There have been some exhibitions here in recent times which, in my view, have not treated the product respectfully,” he said, offering no names.

“I believe these product, whether it’s new cars or new motorcycles, these are serious products that need to be treated with respect and so we are not going to be doing silly things like playing football with cars or crashing cars into hay bales or doing silly things like that.

“It might make for good television, but in our view it doesn’t do much to promote the product.” Mr Purchase said a key element of the new format was to keep exhibiting costs down for manufacturers, a factor that undermined the pervious Australian International Motor Show as some brands were spending up to $1 million on elaborate stands.

“We think the cost of participating in this show will be considerably less – considerably less – than it would have been to participate in a traditional motor show,” he said.

“We will be encouraging the manufacturers not to spend a lot of money on their stands and to do it in a much more cost-effective manner.” Mr Purchase said that was part of the reason why the festival was not billed as a motor show, although its tagline is “the motor show that moves”.

By not branding it as a motor show, the organisers are hoping the local subsidiaries of the car-makers can avoid the strict exhibiting rules imposed by parent companies.

“We’re hoping that the international rules that have to be complied with when they are participating in formal motor shows will not need to apply to this festival,” Mr Purchase said.

Besides, exhibition space will be limited to a certain degree.

“We will not have the same space that we had at the (Melbourne) exhibition centre. It will be first in, best dressed.

“There will be a couple of different sized lots or allocated spaces and it will depend on how they are purchased.” Mr Purchase said there would be plenty of activities for children because the VACC and the RACV wanted to encourage people to come for the entire day.

“This is not a one- or two-hour activity. We would expect them to spend a lot more time at the event. And, therefore, they will be able to take in more of what the new vehicles have to offer.

“Often at the motor show they have not been able to get close enough to it, not been able to touch and feel and smell the cars. That’s what they will be able to do at this event.” The RACV is involved for several reasons, not least because it will be an ideal way to display Australia’s Top 10 Cars, as decided by the combined state-based motoring clubs around the country, said RACV general manager of motoring and mobility, Gordon Oakley.

“The other area which is part of our heritage is the classic vehicle movement, which includes more than 400 clubs in Victoria,” he said.

These clubs would be providing the exhibits of classic cars and motorcycles at the festival.

The RACV will also be heavily involved in the ITS Australia conference that will take place simultaneously with the festival.

The club has been an active participant in the planning and implementation of intelligent transport systems and its general manager of public policy, Brian Negus is the current chairman of ITS Australia.

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