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Clarkson Inc cashes in
Top Gear Live show sells up a storm in Australia as car brands rethink events
19 Nov 2008
THE Top Gear Live show appears immune to the financial troubles affecting the automotive sector, with customers snapping up around 35,000 tickets for the Sydney motor show event in less than a month.
Organisers told GoAuto this week that they had sold roughly half their target six weeks out from the 75-minute stage show, which will held at the Acer Arena and features two stars of the British series, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond, as well as a full suite of automotive stunts, special effects, a prestige and performance gallery and a more general “motoring showcase”.
The popularity of the Top Gear event comes after a slump in attendances at October’s Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, which appeared to be hurt by the worsening economic climate and the decision by several prestige brands to stay away.
Top Gear Live has also attracted the support of manufacturers including Audi, Land Rover and Lotus, which have all agreed to major involvement with the show.
Ford and Holden are also believed to have a presence, but GoAuto understands that both have recently decided to downgrade their involvement given the current economic conditions.
The news that the Top Gear Live show is tracking well comes as traditional motor shows battle to retain manufacturer support. GoAuto has learned that Lexus has decided not to attend next February’s Brisbane International Motor Show, joining other prestige brands including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lamborghini.
Chrysler has also decided not to attend. Event spokesman Chris Nixon said the fi nal list of manufacturers was not yet locked in, but he did confi rm some car-makers would be absent.
While Audi and Land Rover did not attend the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, they have both confirmed their attendance at the Brisbane event.
Mr Nixon said show organisers were anticipating some members of the public may react negatively to the absence of some key prestige brands.
“We are predicting that there might be some negative reaction we anticipate that,” he said. “That’s why we are working on some other strategies to offset the negatives that not every brand will be there.” These strategies include sourcing a V8 Supercar and possibly some high-performance low volume vehicles to brighten the show.
Mr Nixon said the Brisbane show organisers had not been invited to take part in discussions taking place between the organisers of the Sydney and Melbourne events about setting up one single major show per year that will alternate between those two cities.
He said the Brisbane show was strong enough to remain relevant and independent.
“The Brisbane show has a proven track record of producing a lot of strong sales leads,” he said. “And the fact that our floor space rates are far lower than the other shows definitely helps us.” Melbourne International Motor Show organiser Russ Tyrie was unable to confirm the final attendance rollcall for next year’s event, which starts on February 27, but told GoAuto this week that the initial indications were that it would get a lot of support from manufacturers.
“At this stage the majority of brands represented in Australia will be present at the show,” Mr Tyrie said. He admitted that the economic climate could affect crowd numbers, but said that would be unclear until the show was held.
While Audi is yet to make an announcement, GoAuto has learned it will host a stand at the Melbourne show next year but will not go to Sydney. Company insiders suggest the move does not represent any bias, but that the German marque has made the decision to attend one Melbourne or Sydney show in a year but not both.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz officials are yet to announce whether they will be attending the Melbourne show.
Mercedes, however, has confirmed it will dramatically increase its investment in the Australian Formula One Grand Prix next March and stage an even more exclusive customer and media event than the multi-million-dollar AMG extravaganza held at the Bathurst race circuit earlier this year.
The Melbourne F1 event will expand from a traditional marque and private grandstand to an on-track driving experience in which invited guests will be allowed to drive Mercedes vehicles on the Albert Park street circuit on the Wednesday of the Grand Prix week.
Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy said the track access would give customers a unique experience. “We believe that this is a world fi rst,” he said, but declined to confirm whether the Grand Prix test drive would cost more than the Bathurst spectacular.
Mercedes did not attend either the Sydney or Melbourne motor shows last year. GoAuto understands the discussions between the Sydney and Melbourne show organisers in order to come up with one major show that alternates between the two cities has been fruitful even through there are still some fine details to resolve before contracts can be signed.
Mr Tyrie told GoAuto that both the Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce, which runs the Melbourne show, and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which organises the Sydney event, have been busy taking care of other issues in the last few weeks, including the difficulty to find finance and the Rudd government’s master plan for the car industry.
“A lot of the focus of both organisations has been on the issues involving dealers and the car plan,” Mr Tyrie said.
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