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Almost 200,000 flock to AIMS

Flocked: This year's AIMS in Melbourne attracted 193,755 visitors, significantly more than last year's show in Sydney.

Australian motor show crowds up by almost 40 per cent in Melbourne

12 Jul 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI and MARTON PETTENDY in MELBOURNE

MOTOR show goers have voted with their feet for a single annual automotive showcase alternating between the nation’s two largest capitals, with Melbourne’s inaugural Australian International Motor Show drawing almost 200,000 visitors.

Figures compiled since the 2011 AIMS closed its doors on Sunday night shows Melbourne’s first major motor show in two years attracted a total of 193,755 motoring fans.

Although that is less than the halcyon days of Melbourne’s 75-year-old motor show, it is 39 per cent up on last year’s AIMS in Sydney, which attracted just 139,000 visitors.

Despite being open for one less day, it also lured 34 per cent more people than the last Melbourne International Motor Show in 2009 (160,000).

Just as importantly, the first Victorian motor show since Melbourne and Sydney show organisers formed a joint-venture to co-promote a single annual event also attracted strong retail sales, at least for a number of premium vehicle brands.

GoAuto understands Lamborghini sold at least two examples of its all-new $754,600 Aventador super-coupe at the Melbourne show, while Maserati also found two new customers for its GranTurismo MC Stradale ($364,900).

 center imageSold at the show: Lamborghini Aventador, Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, Bentley Continental Flying Spur, Porsche Panamera Turbo.

Bentley, which is understood to have scored floor space free of charge in Melbourne, sold at least one Continental Flying Spur ($374,634), while Porsche said it had sold a Panamera Turbo and a Cayenne Diesel, totalling more than $475,000.

AIMS director Russ Tyrie told GoAuto last week he believed 200,000 visitors to this year’s show was “achievable” and that the move from Melbourne’s traditional March slot to July had several benefits.

They include the influence of winter weather on people’s decisions to undertake indoor activities, family entertainment during school holidays and the show date’s distance from other major international motor shows.

He said the latter allowed manufacturers to exhibit show cars like the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics, Audi e-Tron, Mazda Shinari, Toyota FT-86 II and Lexus LF-Gh.

Not everyone was impressed, however, with volume brand Volkswagen last week threatening to pull out of future shows if this year’s event did not attract more than 180,000 visitors.

“If Melbourne does not reach 180,000 we will seriously think about whether it is worth the investment,” said Volkswagen Group Australia marketing manager Jutta Friese at Friday’s Touareg launch.

“There is a show in a small town in East Germany that attracts as many people as Australian shows in the big cities, so it is possible to think that to do a show here is not worth it.

“There are other marketing opportunities that could be more cost effective and bring a better return on investment.”

Ms Friese said that if the Melbourne show achieved 180,000 people it would cost VW between $8 and $10 per visitor, and offered advice to show organisers about how to attract more spectators.

“The $20 entry price is too high when you add it up for a family. There could be stronger marketing, advertising, longer hours or later opening on weekdays.

“Perhaps cheaper tickets at certain times of day when it is less busy so people who work in the city can go at lunchtime, or free ticket promotions on radio or at car dealers …” she said.

The Melbourne motor show dates back to 1925, making it one of the longest-running in the world, and this year’s show comprised 30 per cent more floor space than the 2010 AIMS in Sydney.

As we’ve reported, the AIMS will be locked out of a July slot in Darling Harbour for up to a decade, meaning it will continue with its traditional October timing until then, preventing 12-month intervals between annual mid-year shows in both capitals.

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