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Exclusive: Australian Motoring Festival killed off

End of the road: Just 25,000 people attended the Australian Motoring Festival in March this year, well down on initial expectations.

VACC and RACV-backed festival shut down after one year and significant losses

20 Oct 2015

THE Australian Motoring Festival (AMF) has been shelved after just one unsuccessful year following a lack of support from car-makers and poor attendance numbers.

The AMF was backed by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) and was held at the Melbourne Showgrounds in March this year for the first and only time.

Just 25,000 visitors attended the four-day event, which was half the 50,000-plus target the organisers were hoping for leading up to the event.

While it is unclear how much was spent in getting the event off the ground, it is believed that it made a considerable loss.

AMF was created in part to fill the void left by the Australian International Motor Show that was killed off in early 2013 following dwindling attendance numbers and manufacturer involvement.

VACC head of marketing, media, communications and publications David Dowsey confirmed to GoAuto that the festival was dead and unlikely to make a return.

“I can confirm that it is not happening next year and there are absolutely no plans to resurrect it so it is not going to happen again,” he said.

Mr Dowsey blamed low take-up from automotive manufacturers and poor ticket sales as the key reasons for the festival's demise.

“We tried the formula. We had done a lot of research and we thought we had built something that the car manufacturers wanted, and clearly there was little support for the event.

“The crowd attendance was below expectations, the manufacturer exhibitions were down on expectations, and it cost a lot of money. So the decision has been made not to proceed with the event.” The end of the road for AMF comes just days after confirmation that another fledgling automotive festival, MotorWorld, would not go ahead with its planned event at Melbourne's Sandown raceway, but thanks to state government funding, will instead move to New South Wales, where it will be held in November next year at Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek.

This week also marks the opening of what will now be Melbourne's only major automotive show or event, Motorclassica, which is held at Melbourne’s historic Royal Exhibition Buildings and features a line-up of iconic classics as well as new models showcased by a selection of premium brands.

Mr Dowsey said there was a place for events such as MotorWorld and Motorclassica, and highlighted the success of the latter.

“I actually do believe that there is room in the marketplace for an event like this, and honestly, we wish them well. And Motoclassica is a terrific event. It wasn't the same event (as AMF) but there was some crossover,” he said.

“They are getting some good traction with manufacturers. But – and they would say this themselves – there is only so far they can take that. It is not an event where Toyota or Mitsubishi could exhibit. It's for brands like Ferrari and Maserati and Mercedes-Benz who have a significant history and a significant back-catalogue of interesting cars. As manufacturers of new cars they can leverage off that and combine the two in an event that is predominantly classic-based, but there is a little bit of room for some new cars.”

Asked whether the VACC and RACV could have continued with the event in a bid to build brand awareness, Mr Dowsey said it was clear that the format was not working.

“We could have tried it again. We could have spent more money marketing it, advertising the function, trying to build the brand, but clearly the manufacturers were saying to us, 'we don't want this'.

“So we only had a couple of manufacturers and it was a hard sell. And certainly six years down the track or six events down the track, it would have been easier to go to, say, Mitsubishi and say 'hey you have had a look at the event, what do you think?' Obviously that's a much easier sell, but we didn't want to spend the money to build a brand that may or may not have been what people wanted anyway.”

The limited number of brands that exhibited at AMF in March included Toyota, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Isuzu Ute and local all-terrain vehicle-maker Tomcar. Only Mercedes and Volvo offered test drives of a handful of models and Tomcar used a purpose-built off-road track for people to test its ATVs.

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