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Autocare convention among postponed events

Real life: Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said the “visceral experience” of championship races was behind the decision to postpone live events rather than keep the series on-schedule with televised coverage only

Coronavirus measures result in major automotive events being postponed or cancelled

18 Mar 2020

THE Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association (AAAA) has postponed its Autocare convention until late October in response to the global coronavirus (CoVid-19) pandemic, with other automotive events such as the National 4x4 Outdoors Show and three upcoming Supercars races also following suit.


Both Autocare and the National 4x4 Outdoors show were to take place in Brisbane in June and March respectively, with the Supercars races in Tasmania, Auckland and Perth to be rescheduled for weekends after June.


The Albert Park Supercars race in Melbourne that was interrupted when the Australian Grand Prix was scuttled will also be replaced at some stage, after the race series resumes at Winton on June 5.


Organisers of the NSW Caravan Camping Holiday Supershow have cancelled the event that was scheduled to open on April 28; this pin has also been pulled on this weekend’s Perth Caravan and Camping Show, and the South Queensland Caravan, Camping, Fishing and 4x4 Expo that was due to open on April 17 has been postponed until further notice.


Countless smaller automotive events are also being cancelled or postponed in compliance with government measures to curtail the spread of CoVid-19 by restricting outdoor gatherings to less than 500 people and non-essential indoor gatherings to 100 people.


AAAA chief executive Stuart Charity told GoAuto he was optimistic that the published Autocare speaker and exhibitor line-up would remain largely unchanged for the two-day event’s rescheduled start date of October 30.


“The one we won’t have Bill Hanvey (president and CEO of the United States Auto Care Association) because the rescheduled dates are the week before the AAPEX show in Las Vegas … but he’s going to work with us on a video address,” he said.


“I think our program will be relatively unchanged; in terms of exhibitors it’s early days but we’ve only had two cancellations so far that have both been as a result of clashes with other commitments.”


Mr Charity added that those with paid registrations for Autocare 2020 would be offered a roll-over to the new dates or a full refund.


“We’re relatively confident that we will get the support from our industry to continue this event,” he said.


Asked if economic impacts of the CoVid-19 pandemic were still likely to impact the Autocare event, Mr Charity remained positive that the industry represented by AAAA remains in good shape.


“I can say pretty safely that the supply chain side of the business – the resellers and so-on – have had no impact and are still going at full capacity,” he said.


“A lot of supply issues out of China have resolved themselves; China seems to be getting back on its feet and getting product on the water so there are no supply issues and demand is still pretty strong.


“From a workshop perspective, some workshops are up, some are normal, and some are a little bit down so it’s a little patchy but demand at the moment seems to be holding up.”


But Mr Charity acknowledged that “a lot of fear and uncertainty” existed among independent workshop owners.


“The majority are small businesses and they don’t have large cash reserves, so I think everyone’s terrified of what impact an extended shutdown would have on their business,” he said.


Mr Charity said the AAAA would campaign for automotive parts supply and repair to be declared an essential industry if Australia went into lockdown, based on precedents set in overseas markets such as the United States.


“We need to keep cars, trucks and emergency service vehicles on the roads,” he said.


Organisers of the postponed National 4x4 Outdoors Show issued a statement that they were suspending ticket sales while they were “carefully working through the next steps to determine potential new dates”.


In a statement, Caravan and Camping Industry Association (CCIA) NSW CEO Lyndel Gray said the CoVid-19 pandemic had resulted in the first cancellation of its ‘Supershow’ in more than 50 years of operation.


“There are 300 exhibitors and over 50,000 people that were expected to attend the Supershow from the 28 April to the 3 May this year,” said Ms Gray.


“CCIA NSW will be refunding paid ticket holders to the event as well as exhibitors.”


Supercars CEO Sean Seamer said the championship had been “working diligently to assess all available options to ensure continuity of the series” and that holding live events were preferable to purely televised races because “our sport is a visceral experience”.


“Obviously, the situation is evolving, but we acknowledge the need to act decisively with the information we have at hand,” said Mr Seamer.


“We have decided, along with our key broadcast and government partners, to delay any further racing until June.”

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