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Industry keeps watch on NEC Show success

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) says next month's British Motor Show will feature 10 world model debuts and 45 British launches - even though several big-name manufacturers will not be attending.

BMW, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Isuzu, Kia, Proton and Suzuki are among the manufacturers missing from the official list of exhibitors on the show website. But the Birmingham NEC-based show will still attract 600,000 visitors, claims the SMMT. Most of the major product debuts will have been unveiled at this week's Paris show, including the Audi A8, Bentley GT coupe, Ford Streetka, Nissan Micra, Honda Accord and VW Touareg.

That means the list of true world launches at the NEC is unlikely to feature any sizeable surprises outside the usual list of UK-focused minnows like Caterham and TVR. Instead, show organisers are attempting to whip up interest with a list of special attractions, like a Mini stunt driving team, aerobatics, an off-road driving simulation from Vauxhall, and a Lego “racing drome”.

“Overall there will be more than 700 models on view,” says a spokesman. “Confirmed debuts include the British-built Peugeot 206 GTi 180bhp, a European first for Daihatsu's Copen, and the fantastic Enzo from Ferrari. More than a quarter of a million people have already taken a virtual tour of the show on the website, and 20,000 visitors have saved money by booking online.”

The success of the NEC event will be closely watched by the industry after the collapse of the Earl's Court show last year. Premium manufacturers, in particular, are looking for new ways to spend their marketing budgets outside the traditional round of car shows.

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