British motor show and Motor Expo could unite in the future
27 May 2009

The traditional British motor show could be replaced by an automotive “summit” modelled on the Daos world economic forum, if plans being considered by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders come to fruition.

“We’re looking at that sort of idea, but we’ve got a long way to go with it,” said Paul Everitt, chief executive of the SMMT.

Part of the idea is to co-ordinate the automotive summit with the Motor Expo at Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands, mixing new car displays with media events, the essential elements of a traditional motor show.

Exploratory talks with the company that owns Canary Wharf and the Excel exhibition centre are said to have been “encouraging”.

While the area around the financial district in east London would hold the Motor Expo, a wide-ranging auto conference would grab the headlines with a series of heavy-hitting announcements and discussions.

By organising the core of the event with industry heavyweights close to London’s financial and media centres, the SMMT believes that spin-off events would be generated, just as happens with the World Economic Forum held each year at Davos in Switzerland.

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“With so many important people in town, you could imagine one of the British car awards ceremonies being held in the evening,” said Everitt.

One of the appeals to the industry of the summit idea is its relatively low cost compared to a traditional motor show. It could spread a major media message in one or two days without the multi-million pound costs of two weeks of attending and staffing a motor show.

SMMT insiders are understood to believe that getting a traditional-style British motor show up-an running again after a three or four year gap in 2011/12 will be extremely difficult.

“Hasn’t the traditional motor show had its day?” said one source.

Julian Rendell

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