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Days of old static motor show format over: Subaru

Future model: Subaru Australia took the WRX concept to a handful of local dealers as the star of its very own, intimate mini motor show in June this year.

Australian motor show format must change or perish, says Subaru

Subaru logo7 Oct 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO

SUBARU Australia managing director Nick Senior says the old motor show business model of displaying a host of static cars under a single roof is no longer viable here, and that a new more interactive solution must be found.

This year’s Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne was cancelled – and next year’s national show scheduled for Sydney has likewise been abandoned – due to reduced interest from car-makers, many of which attributed their decision to withdraw to a perceived lack of value for money from their expensive show stands.

Factors widely considered responsible for this decline in the impact of local motor shows include buyers’ shift to researching new cars online, the reduction of locally made Ford and Holden concept cars to draw the crowds, and the high cost of setting up a static stand.

With the future of the event up in the air for 2015 and beyond, Mr Senior last week pointed to Subaru’s recent experimentation with a travelling roadshow that toured a handful of dealers in June this year as one example of a future alternative to the familiar format.

The star of the mini motor show was Subaru’s WRX concept, fresh from its global debut at the New York motor show just three months earlier.

The event was an example, said Mr Senior, of “taking cars to the people rather than expecting people to come in to a centralised building”.

However, such an event would form but one part of a multi-pronged promotional attack, he said, because a dealer-held event still ‘talks’ to a relatively small audience.

In Subaru’s case, any such event held in future will likely be complemented by an enhanced presence at the number of outdoor, adventure and lifestyle shows that take place each year around Australia.

Other companies are putting more emphasis on customer drive days at race circuits.

Mr Senior also cited Ford’s interactive outdoor stand at AIMS in Sydney last year as a good example of how to modify the format to draw the car-makers and crowds back. The Ford stand put customers behind the wheel of several key models on a large-scale outdoor course.

“I think the challenge is for the industry to reinvent the motor show as we know it today,” said Mr Senior. “It’s no secret around the world that some iconic motor shows have disappeared.

“Everyone knows the story of happened here. I think the days of having a motor show under a roof and just putting a few cars on a stand have gone. We need to do something that is more in tune with what the customers want, more interactive.

“We don’t know the answer yet, but we had an opportunity with the (WRX) concept car … to showcase our performance credentials which we took to a couple of locations.

“We had some pretty good feedback, but you’re still talking to a pretty small audience, you still probably need a bigger venue than what we used, but it’s given us sounding board to what we may do.

“Going forward we need to decide how we refine that, as an industry.

“I think everyone is keen to have a motor show (here), whether it comes back in its previous format, I think it needs change and the public have been telling us it needs change, the FCAI and other stakeholders are looking at ways it can be changed to be more attractive to people.”

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