Excel event faces crippling manufacturer pull-outs

The British motor show could be delayed until 2011 because of worries about the show’s profitability and a forthcoming clash with the 2012 London Olympics, sources close to the organisers have reported.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which owns the rights to the British motor show, admitted that shifting the biennial show to 2011 “is one of the options we have discussed”. Spokesperson Nikki Rooke said a number of ideas for the show are still “under consideration”.

Rob Mackenzie, managing director of show organiser IMIE, said that “a decision has yet to be taken”.

Although the 2006 and 2008 London-based motor shows found new glamour and attracted a handful of global launches, both the SMMT and IMIE want to address the event’s main weakness: the absence of too many car makers.

Last year Audi, BMW, Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen were high-profile no-shows. Audi put its marketing budget into the Goodwood Festival of Speed, citing lower costs and better sales prospects.

IMIE recognises no-shows as a serious problem. “To go ahead, we need the collective support of the major brands. It’s difficult to run a family party when some of the grandparents are missing,” said Mackenzie.

Autocar’s sources suggest that several car makers have already decided to miss the 2010 show, with others expected to follow suit.

According to another well placed source, the no-shows have already been discussed at the SMMT’s Exhibition Steering Group, which advises the Car Section, the highest committee at SMMT.

The Car Section committee will ultimately decide whether the show goes ahead, is delayed or postponed. It meets in March.

Julian Rendell

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