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MotorWorld set to stay in Sydney

Old and new: MotorWorld Sydney showcases new cars but punters can also get up close with classics.

First of three years for innovative motor show concept at Sydney Motorsport Park

5 Dec 2016

THE debut of the inaugural MotorWorld test drive at event at Sydney Motorsport Park has been hailed as a success by its founder, Kris Willand, who revealed that the event will return to the same venue in 2017 and 2018.

While attendance numbers were not disclosed at the time of publication, Mr Willand told GoAuto that the event is locked into returning to the Sydney Motorsport Park venue, which hosted the 2016 event.

“We have invested a lot in making it work at this venue and for the next three years, the tenure of our contract with this venue in New South Wales, we will definitely be here annually,” he said.

“It’s a three-year process to establish an event like this. For that three-year process I think we need to stay put. Like most motoring events, they have a home. We need a firm base and this is a very, very good venue.”

Mr Willand, who has pitched the event as a replacement to the traditional idea of a motor show, says the more hands-on approach has appealed to brands such as Tesla.

“We all know motor shows fell over and I feel there’s very simple reasons because that retail browsing model I think is dead,” he said. “People don’t go to a show to find new information to find out what the pricing is or even take pictures of cars. The internet is doing a fabulous job of that.

“But what there’s always a need for is something experiential. Touch, feel, smell. You know, get the heart pumping. You see Tesla here. Have you ever seen Tesla at a motor show? No, but you can actually jump into Teslas. You can jump into the Model X, you’ve never been able to do that anywhere. So for the challenger brands, that’s great. You have them on board.”

80 center imageLeft: MotorWorld Sydney managing director Kris Willand.Mr Willand said that despite the lukewarm reaction from a number of car-makers in Australia, he remains positive that more will consider MotorWorld for next year.

“We’ve invited the brands to have a look,” he said. “This is a prototype and it’s the first time we’re putting it out there saying this could actually work.

“To be completely honest, it is a difficult concept to sell because you can’t pigeon-hole it yet. It hasn’t been done anywhere else in the world. You can’t say its like Goodwood it’s not like Goodwood, because you get to drive yourself, not just if you have a wonderful classic car. It’s not like a motor show and it’s not like a race day either.”

Hiccups in the booking system led to a number of instances of double-booking drives for the event, while pre-event ticket sales were below expectation.

“Pre-sales were average,” Mr Willand said. “We anticipated that the potential of booking test drives online would generate a much greater pre-sales drive. It didn’t, obviously generate a lot. We had a few thousand test drives booked upfront, or a third of the test drives. That’s fine. But we thought all the test drives would be booked. But again, you never know until you try.”

Mr Willand said that he would meet with key stakeholders after the event in a review process, and he has flagged areas where improvements are required.

“I think the biggest challenge to the future of the event is we will book out all the drive experiences, no doubt,” said Mr Willand. “Even if we have seven thousand or eight thousand test drives, that sounds a lot.

“But if you’ve got fifteen, twenty thousand people coming through the door, which is not a huge number, over four days, most people will not drive. So how do we extend, expand that number because clearly that is selling out. That’s the challenge for the future.”

Mr Willand also pointed out that the traditional budget requirements for a motor show are far less at the MotorWorld event, which also plays to creating a less intimidating environment for potential customers of car brands.

“The motor shows have always been intimidating, make no mistake,” he said. “You have million-dollar cars on million-dollar stands and you have an income of $60,000 on average, it’s just not going to work.

“You would’ve walked around... (the infrastructure is) gazebos and flags. That’s what we’re saying, because if they overcapitalise, this thing is dead too. We can’t afford overcapitalisation again.”

Mr Willand is keen to push the festival side of the event, and indicated that it would steer clear of other newly established events that are showing signs of growth.

“We certainly don’t want to become another Motorclassica,” he said. “That festival feel is want we want to provide. It’s got that casual feel about it.

People are wandering in and out of the pits and going ‘Wow, I’d really like to try that. Is that okay?’ And they jump into cars they wouldn’t otherwise have driven. That’s working really well.”

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