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Tokyo show doubt

Car-makers reconsider Tokyo motor show participation in global recession

20 Jan 2009


THIS year’s Tokyo Motor Show has been thrown into doubt by the global recession as organisers wrestle with the possibility of canceling the October event.

Yesterday, Volvo joined America’s ‘Big Three’ auto-makers in announcing it will not attend the Tokyo show, and there are fears that more major brands will also stay away.

The executive director of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (JAMA), which organises the biennial show, told Automotive News a decision on whether to “postpone” the show would be made in early February.

However, another JAMA representative told news agency Reuters last week that the show would not be cancelled, despite reservations even from Japanese car-makers, who are racking up unexpected losses.

“We are not having any discussions to cancel the event,” Nobuyuki Takahashi told Reuters. “We will definitely go ahead with it.” If it is cancelled, there will not be another Tokyo show until 2011 due to international scheduling agreements.

All of the German and Japanese carmakers have registered for this year’s show, which is scheduled for October 24 to November 8.

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler announced at the Detroit show they would skip Tokyo this year to save money and, while the US automakers are not major players in the Japanese market, their presence at the show is seen as prestigious.

A GM Asia Pacific spokesman said the $US2 million it would cost to attend could be better spent elsewhere, while a Ford spokeswoman said participation was “not a strategic priority”.

Ford-owned Volvo said its decision to withdraw came about from a global review.

“We have evaluated our participation at motor shows for 2009 to see how we can make the most out of our resources, and this year we decided not to participate at Tokyo,” said Volvo spokeswoman Maria Bohlin.

Australian motor shows have been hit in recent years by reduced manufacturer attendance – leading to the cancellation of the Brisbane, Adelaide and (though yet to be confirmed) Sydney shows this year – while eight brands missed last week’s Detroit show.

And, in the UK, the Commercial Vehicle Show scheduled for this April was last week cancelled due to the economic downturn.

“We have obviously noted that just about every other show in this sector has been cancelled for 2009,” noted Road Haulage Association chief executive Roger King.

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