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Dealers could exhibit at London motor show

The growing list of big-name manufacturers pulling out of next year's London Motor Show could open the door to dealers to exhibit.

Peugeot is the latest to decide it will not be attending the Earls Court show next year, joining Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Peugeot marketing director Rod Philpot said: "Next year will be a very important year for us in the UK with the launch of the replacement for the hugely successful 306 range in the first half of 2001.

"We will be concentrating all our efforts into making next year's launch of one of the biggest and most important we have ever staged. This will involve huge financial investment and we have therefore had to act very prudently when compiling next year's marketing budgets.

"The timing of the London Motor Show, in the second half of the year does not fit with our plans."

Peugeot, he said, would continue to support the bi-annual Birmingham motor show.

But a spokeswoman revealed the manufacturers' decision to stay away could leave the door open for dealers.

"We are looking at ways to ensure the absent manufacturers are represented. A possibility is to invite their respective dealers to attend," she said. "Although the costs involved in having a stand could be prohibitive.

She also spoke of negotitations with "other third parties" and while refusing to elaborate these could include the dotcom retailers which made their first motor show appearance at Birmingham this year, in the form of Virgin Cars which offered on-line car purchasing on its stand.

The spokeswoman also questioned the logic of the absentee manufacturers.

"The common cause for not attending appears to be the toughness of the market and the need to tighten spending. It's ironic considering the London show has always been more sales driven than Birmingham. For example last year at Earls Court, Peugeot picked up more than 9,000 sales leads," she said.

The spokeswoman said there was "no possibility" of the show being canned.

"We already have 200 exhibitors signed up", she said. ##London Motor Show--right##

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