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London to rewrite motor show rules

Carmakers, accustomed to a corporate motor show presence to boost their brands, will have to share space with rivals if they want to be at Earls Court in October.

London Motor Show organisers will create 'showcases' for sectors of vehicles, ranging from off-roaders to tiny city cars. Manufacturers will pay around £10,000 for a car space and to have promotional staff near the vehicle.

The organisers were forced to take a radical new approach after a succession of manufacturers (including Ford and Peugeot) pulled out.

Vauxhall, which this week committed to the show, helped the organisers develop the new look.

Andrew Morris, chief executive of Earls Court and Oympia, said: “Carmakers will not have the option of building big stands. If they do not want to be in 'showcases', we will obtain the cars elsewhere, perhaps from dealers.

“Manufacturers make cars – we make shows. We know, from our experience with the Ideal Homes Show and other events, what Londoners want.

“We have deep pockets and remain convinced of the future of the London Motor Show. We are making an additional investment of at least £1m to make this year's event a success.”

Mr Morris agreed London was a “second tier motor show” and that carmakers had to find substantial savings because of trading difficulties caused by last year's pricing controversy.

October's event could be a milestone for motor shows in the UK, possibly throughout Europe, if manufacturers accept the new format.

The capital's motor show is organised by Clarion Events in association with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, and with the co-operation of the Retail Motor Industry Federation.

Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive, said: “Individual members will make up their own minds but we want this to be a success. The Earls Court organisers faced a big dilemma and I am impressed by the exciting new format which could make it a great show for Londoners.

“We stage a great show in Birmingham, and are looking at ways of enhancing it in 2002. The London approach has a lot of merit.”

Last year's NEC show, hit by the rail dispute, attracted around 570,000 visitors though the target was 750,000.

Alan Pulham, director of the RMI's National Franchised Dealers Association, said: “I don't think it will work because manufacturers want to preserve brands. They will not be comfortable with composite stands. Motor shows are struggling because of television motoring programmes and the internet.”

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