BMW will not be at next year's Birmingham motor show, believing it can use the £1.5m-plus cost more effectively as it sets a 100,000 sales target, combined with Mini. Mercedes-Benz is giving serious thought to staying away from the NEC but Ford and Porsche, among others, say they will be there.
This month's decision by BMW is a severe blow to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders which will hope the manufacturer has not started a drift from the event.
The SMMT relies on the show as its main revenue source. A spokesman said: “It is up to individual manufacturers to make their commercial decisions about being there but we're confident the show will be a great success.”
The London Motor Show, scheduled for last month, was scrapped when carmakers refused to buy stand space.
Chris Willows, BMW GB corporate communications director, said: “We are not saying the Birmingham show is a waste of time and the decision is based purely on our current business objectives. For next year, we don't believe the show will be the most effective marketing medium for the BMW brand. This is a one-off decision and we may well take a different view for 2004.
“We may look like spoilers but for years being at a motor show has been driven by fear – 'we have got to be there'.
“Being at the NEC would cost BMW more than £1.5m – we can spend the money more effectively and in a more targeted way. Our decision not to go to the London show was based on a similar rational approach.
“There is an increasing number of ways companies can reach customers, including the internet, and the cost of advertising keeps rising.”
Mr Willows said he was certain the NEC event would be staged and BMW would show the Mini. “It has potentially broader appeal, and the brand under BMW is still growing,” he said.
Dermot Kelly, Mercedes-Benz UK passenger cars director, said the company might not be at the NEC show. Each enquiry at last year's event cost Mercedes £250. “We have not yet made a decision about next year,” he said.
Mercedes' UK marketing will be based on brand centres in London, Birmingham and Manchester which would probably also feature the Maybach luxury saloon and Smart city car. “We may give vouchers to corporate customers and I'd charge retail customers if I felt I could,” he said.