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Car companies lured by cut-price exhibition

On track: The Australian Motoring Festival in Melbourne will have a temporary test track for potential buyers to sample cars.

New motoring festival woos hard-pressed auto companies with cheaper exhibits

25 Jun 2014

MOTOR companies can expect to slash their exhibition costs by up to 90 per cent compared with a traditional motor show if they sign up with the new-look Australian Motoring Festival in Melbourne next year, according to the organiser, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).

Instead of spending up to $1.5 million on exhibition space and elaborate stands, exhibitors would likely spend $100,000 to $150,000 in the more simple festival format, VACC executive director David Purchase said today at a media promotion at the planned venue, the Melbourne Showgrounds, in the city's inner west.

The Australian Motoring Festival on March 26-29 is the replacement for the Australian International Motor Show that was axed in 2013 amid dwindling car company interest and falling attendances.

The new-look event – with interactive activities such as test drives and classic car exhibits – will be held in March over four days – six days shorter than the traditional Melbourne motor show at the Exhibition Centre.

The VACC – which organised 73 motor shows under the Melbourne and Australian titles over 90 years – is about to embark on a formal campaign to woo car and motorcycle companies to sign up for the event, with meetings planned to discuss various exhibition alternatives.

Mr Purchase said he expected the festival to represent 95 per cent of the Australian new-vehicle “car parc”.

 center imageLeft: VACC executive director David Purchase.

He said the top 10 car companies accounted for 78 per cent of car sales volume in Australia, and he was confident that these and more – including major luxury car-makers – would get involved.

“We have already had tremendous interest,” he said. “We are already running short of space here.”

Mr Purchase said he would be disappointed if at least 100,000 car fans did not attend the festival, drawn by the wide spread of activities and a heavy promotional schedule that included marketing by major partner, the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, and the Herald Sun newspaper.

He said that was about half the attendance of the traditional motor show, but that the new festival would be held over a shorter period.

Up to 100 new cars would be available for potential buyers to test drive on a temporary test circuit set up in the showgrounds car park, with SUVs also ready to be driven around a temporary off-road track in the main arena.

The organisers expect up to 10,000 drivers to get behind the wheel of the test cars, to not only drive them around a circuitous track but also try new technologies such as autonomous braking and automatic parking systems.

Motor cycles and scooters will also be available for test rides.

Mr Purchase said he wanted the festival to become “Australia’s Goodwood” – the renowned annual British motoring event that mixed new vehicles with classic cars and other activities.

He said the new festival had been designed to fit the wishes of the motor companies who wanted to cut exhibition costs and reduce the exhibition time, both of which had been a drag on marketing resources.

Rather than build elaborate stands to exhibit their latest models, companies will be encouraged to keep exhibits manageable.

Undercover static exhibition space will be sold in lots of up to 300 square metres, although there was nothing stopping a company buying two lots, Mr Purchase said.

These companies would have to pay extra to have cars in the test drive activity, but this would be “less than $30,000”.

Mr Purchase said the interactive test drives and other forms of entertainment – including bands and parades of classic cars – addressed another issue raised by the car companies that wanted more than static displays.

To promote the event, the VACC has engaged actor and TV personality Shane Jacobson, who was involved in the Top Gear Live event at the same venue in 2011.

RACV members will get discounts on ticket prices, slicing the planned $30 adult ticket to $20, and a family ticket from $60 to $40.

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