Mercedes will be the only premium German brand at ExCel next summer
18 December 2007

Both BMW and Audi will snub next year’s London Motor Show, Autocar has learned, leaving Mercedes as the sole German luxury car-maker exhibiting at the UK’s biennial motor show.BMW’s decision not to go in 2008 is a hefty blow to the show, since BMW made a big impact on its return to the Brit show limelight in 2006, after missing the previous shows in 2004 and 2002.Attendees at one of the show's co-ordinating meetings last week received news that BMW wouldn’t be taking a stand. A BMW spokesman said “there’s still a small chance, but because we are one of the sponsors of the O2 Arena, it's very unlikely. It comes down to how much budget is available.“Neither can Audi be persuaded to change its stance from the one that saw it miss the 2006 show. “We don’t see it as value-for-money,” said a spokesman, “there are more intimate ways of getting closer to quality customers.”Audi says it gets more out of its stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which costs around a quarter of the London Show’s £1m, yet gets nearly as many visitors.

Don't panic: it'll be a great show regardless

BMW’s absence at London 2008 will be all the more noticeable because Mini will be there, and because other car-makers are returning to the British show after ignoring it two years ago. Most significant amongst these is Ferrari, making its comeback after last exhibiting in 2002 when an Enzo took pride of place, and rumoured to be introducing its new DB9-rivalling 2+2 coupe there, codenamed F149.In 2006, BMW teamed-up with Rolls-Royce to take a impressive outdoor space large enough to make an America’s Cup racing yacht the centrepiece of its display. In a nearby pavilion BMW gave the M6 Convertible its world debut and then-chairman Helmut Panke added a heavyweight presence.In 2008 that outdoor space has already been allocated to a Goodwood-style display and parade of supercars.For Britain’s car enthusiasts, BMW and Audi’s absence will be an unpleasant reminder of motor shows past, despite both companies making huge increases in UK sales in the past 15 years — Audi’s, for example, have gone from 19,000 units in 1993 to more than 100,000 this year.Other absentees include Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen. Officially Rolls is “undecided”, but since the outdoor venue of the 2006 event is going to be turned over to supercars, if it does attend, Rolls will have to find a new spot inside ExCel.

The main attractions

The biggest reasons to go to the London show in 2008 will be the international debuts - something British shows have been short on in recent years - and as Autocar understands it, we'll be seeing the Vauxhall Insignia, Ford Focus RS (in concept form), Lotus Eagle and Ferrari 'F149' for the first time. Other attractions will include a display of 50 years of supercars, a drift school, a display of luxury water craft, a 4x4 experience and a live action stunt show.The British Motor Show 2008 will run at ExCeL London, in Docklands, between 23 July and 3 August. Tickets will be priced from £8, and the show's organisers expect to sell more than half a million of them. Visit www.britishmotorshow.co.uk to find out more.

Julian Rendell

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