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Mazda mulls next motor show move

Maybe Mazda: Motorclassica is proving to be Australia's motor show success story, offering the public a chance to see modern models alongside their classic ancestors.

MotorWorld no go but Motorclassica a possibility for Mazda

30 Nov 2015

IN THE wake of Australia's discontinued motor show and failed replacements, Mazda is carefully considering alternatives to the traditional show format, and Melbourne's flourishing Motorclassica is one possibility for the Japanese car-maker.

With declining interest from both the public and exhibitors, the annual Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) was killed off in 2013 and a direct replacement is yet to be found, but Mazda says a different formula" would be necessary for it to attend.

Speaking at the launch of the 2.0-litre MX-5 sportscar, Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders said scaling back the coverage of shows in Australia was one contributing factor to the eventual AIMS death.

“I think the industry made a mistake a few years ago when they went from five shows back to two and back to alternate with one a year,” he said. “If you build a stand that is going to cost you a seven figure number, if you only run one town through it that's 250,000 people.

“If you run it through all the capital cities, there is a little bit of extra cost touring it around but you get a million people through it. Why would you stop doing it.”

While events such as the RACV and VACC-backed Australian Motoring Festival have unsuccessfully attempted to revive a local car show, nothing has yet produced the required numbers, but Mr Benders said smaller emerging shows including Motorclassica are more attractive for brands with history.

“Motorclassica would be nice but it would be small time,” he said. “We've got a few heritage cars and we are buying a few more. We have a bit of a fleet now.”

Mr Benders explained that a return to the more orthodox event was not out of the question as long as it was better value with the potential to reach out to a larger audience.

“Everybody decided we spend too much on motor shows. If we started looking at a lower cost way of doing it in all the capital cities I might be more interested, but to go into one a year in one town, it has to be a different formula and very difficult to make it work.”

Motorclassica has grown in popularity each year, attracting greater numbers of punters and, more recently, brands, since the inaugural show in 2009, and Mr Benders compared the state of Australian shows to the situation in Europe.

“The only motor shows that still count in Europe are Paris and Frankfurt with some smaller ones here and there. In the UK, which you would think could support one, Goodwood has become a de facto show, but there's no London one, no Birmingham any more.”

If Mazda decides to attend the Motorclassica event in Melbourne, it will join the growing list of brands that exhibit both old and new metal at the show – a trend started by Mercedes-Benz when it debuted its new S-Class in 2013.

Honda has recently become the first brand to put its hand up for another new Australian motor show alternative, confirming it will attend the MotorWorld festival in Sydney, but Mr Benders said that if the organisers had also approached Mazda he was “unaware of it”.

MotorWorld is undeterred despite having watched its main rival, the Australian Motoring Festival fail, and has recently changed tack, opting for Sydney's Eastern Creek motorsport venue instead of the Sandown raceway in Melbourne as it had originally intended.

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