Manufacturers are divided over the future of major motor shows in the UK following the axing of this year's London Motor Show.
October's Earls Court event, which alternates with the British International Motor Show at Birmingham's NEC, has been cancelled due to a lack of support from vehicle manufacturers. Eighteen manufacturers had announced they would not attend, while 11 were scheduled to exhibit.
This week BMW (GB), one of the manufacturers which said it would not be at the London event, questioned the future viability of motor shows. BMW (GB) managing director Jim O'Donnell claimed such shows were "not a pleasant environment in which to look at new cars", with thousands of motoring enthusiasts cramming Earls Court and the NEC to see the latest vehicles.
All manufacturers are under pressure to cut costs and O'Donnell said: "Motor shows are a huge investment. Can we afford to go to a motor show? Is the motor show a thing of the past in its present form? I don't know. The jury is still out."
However, Vauxhall chairman and managing director Nick Reilly said he was disappointed that this year's London Motor Show was not taking place. Vauxhall was one of the few manufacturers which had publicly committed to exhibit at Earls Court and Reilly, who is also president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, believes "something will fill the void of the London Motor Show".
"The UK is an important country for the design and production of vehicles and the motor show is an important shop window for both internal and external consumption," he said.
However, a Vauxhall spokesman told AM-online this year's cancellation had cast a shadow over London's appeal. "Our concern is that now London has missed a year, it will be more difficult to stage a traditional show in 2003," he said.