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AAAA Expo attracts big crowds

Successful year: More than 10,000 workshop owners, technicians and manufacturers attended the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo in Melbourne this year, a 34 per cent rise from 2013.

Political recognition raises profile of the auto sector’s biggest trade show

29 Apr 2015

SURGING attendance and intense political interest have helped the Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo become one of the most prominent automotive exhibitions in the country following the demise of the joint Melbourne-Sydney motor show in 2013.

A total of 420 exhibitors from 21 countries made the Expo the largest automotive industry show in the Oceania region, according to Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) executive director Stuart Charity.

While essentially a trade show open only to those who work in the automotive sector, the Expo attracted 10,266 workshop owners, technicians and manufacturers over the three days to 18 April, a rise of 34 per cent compared with the last Expo, in Sydney in 2013.

The strong interest in the Expo, which is accompanied by the Collision Repair Expo, contrasts with the inaugural Australian Motoring Festival, which was staged in Melbourne just weeks before, although comparisons are difficult.

The AMF was the first attempt to replace the Melbourne International Motor Show (MIMS), which was cancelled in 2013 due to poor response from car manufacturers and a steady decline in attendances at previous shows.

A public show rather than a trade show, the AMF attracted around 25,000 in its first attempt at the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds, a bit short of preliminary expectations.

An important indication of the Expo’s growing profile was the attendance of many political figures during the event.

The show was opened by the shadow minister for higher education, research, innovation and industry, Senator Kim Carr, who is a member of the Senate Inquiry into the Australian automotive industry.

He was joined in cutting the ribbon to open the Expo by fellow senators and inquiry members Nick Xenophon from South Australia and Ricky Muir from Victoria.

The Victorian Minister for Industry Lily D’Ambrosio was the keynote speaker at the AAAA Innovation Awards Breakfast.

Jamie Briggs, the federal assistant minister for infrastructure and regional development used the Expo to officially outline his preferred changes to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act, including freeing up restrictions on the personal importing of vehicles.

To cap off the political presence, federal minister for small business, Bruce Billson, told the Excellence Awards Dinner that the government was determined to ensure that independent repairers would be given access to the data necessary to maintain and repair vehicles. “In the past, the aftermarket has been largely ignored as governments focused on the passenger vehicle manufacturers,” Mr Charity said.

“Aftermarket manufacturing represents 36 per cent of all automotive production in Australia – that is $5.2 billion a year – and exports $800 million worth of Australian developed products each year.

“The AAAA has lobbied hard to demonstrate to state and federal MPs that, when the passenger vehicle manufacturers close their plants, there will still be a vital and growing automotive industry in Australia.”

Mr Charity said he hoped that state and federal politicians now realised that, with appropriate policies in place, aftermarket manufacturers could make an even larger contribution to manufacturing in Australia and to export.

Leading prize winners in the innovation section included Brown and Watson for its Projecta folding solar panel kits for use when camping, and Hayman Reese for the Cequent SmartCheck Battery Monitor which ensures trailer batteries powering emergency braking systems are correctly charged.

The prize for excellence in manufacturing went to Redarc Electronics for its Tow-Pro Trailer Brake Controller.

The prize for Excellence in Export went to TurboSmart, which makes and exports a range of wastegate blow-off valves.

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