The concept of the motor show has been given support from an unlikely source at the Frankfurt show today - Microsoft.
The global software giant is at Frankfurt to launch the expansion of its automotive website MSN Carview into the European mainland. The site went live in the UK last year. MSN Carview this week went live in Germany and will be rolled out to 12 other countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the next six months. The German launch saw the Frankfurt motor show become a global online event. An estimated 60 million people are expected to visit a one-off site, accessible through MSN Carview, dedicated the show and available in five languages.
But despite this showcasing of its technological prowess, MSN Carview's European marketing director Andrew Warner, entered the debate on the future viability and value of 'the motorshow'. The RMI's national franchised dealer director Alan Pulham said in an exclusive interview for AM-online (see the In Depth section of the website) that technological advances and the increasing professionalism of dealers meant events like next year's Birmingham motor show had a limited future. The failure of Clarion Events to muster enough manufacturer support to save this year's Earl Court show was indicative of changing attitudes, Mr Pulham said. Christopher Macgowan chief executive of the SMMT, which this week launched the Birmingham event, has spoken out in defence of motor shows (see this week's Automotive Management).
Mr Warner told AM-online: "The consumer will always want to attend a motor show. We would always argue that the internet can't satisfy what a show offers. It's human nature to want to touch something and also to talk face-to-face with someone about it."
He even suggested that the internet could be used to inspire an event. "The internet can act as a teaser to an event, to promote it as well as gauge the interest. When it reaches a specific level, hold the event and allow the parties, that have so far only communicated remotely, meet."<