Keen to avoid the series of high-profile defections from the show stands that afflicted the 2002 event the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders claims: “Doors are not slamming in our face and conversations continue with a wide variety of companies. We will announce the full line-up in March.”
Mercedes-Benz, represented by its AMG performance division at the last show, is likely to involve its Smart and Maybach brands this time around. The niche approach could result in the £313,000 supercar SLR McLaren being the sole representative of the three-pointed star.
A spokesman for Mercedes says: “We will be there in some shape or form, probably several selected shapes and forms. Shows need to be modern, radical and relevant.”
BMW is in “active talks” with the SMMT and a spokesman says: “We are considering linking the event to our Rockingham Performance Centre to exploit the hands-on element.”
Hyundai and Suzuki are also returning to the show after missing the 2002 event. Jim Campbell, Hyundai's marketing director, says: “A more effective format and scope for outdoor activities means we can get more bums on seats to generate test drives and real business.
“This includes using the four-wheel drive course. We hope the changes will mean more footfall among potential buyers.”
Motor Show Live has moved out of the Paris exhibition's Autumn shadow and should attract several European debuts including Land Rover's new Discovery. Show PR director Andrew Andersz says: “The London show was arguably killed by a negative media feeding frenzy about who would not be there.
“We have more than enough positives to emphasise. We are promoting and celebrating an industry which has a wider production base than other European countries.”