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SMMT embraces motor show relocation

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is banking on the return to London after 28 years and lower costs for exhibitors and visitors to secure the future of the British International Motor Show.

In July 2006 it will be staged at ExCel in London’s Docklands, midway between the spring Geneva and autumn Paris motor shows. The SMMT hopes this will persuade vehicle manufacturers to choose London as the setting for international model debuts that eluded the Birmingham NEC show.

Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive, says: “The show has been a failure in recent years at the NEC. We had to choose between rolling over and doing nothing or switching to a cheaper venue. There’s no guarantee of success but carmakers have welcomed the return to London which we think will also be attractive to visitors.”

“Our ambition is to see London ranked a global show alongside Paris, Frankfurt, Geneva, Detroit and Tokyo.” Macgowan believes the change of venue may win back BMW and other manufacturers that defected from the UK motor show.

The new London show will have a break-even attendance figure of about 300,000 compared with 500,000 at Birmingham. It will be much smaller and modelled on Geneva where space limitations restrict the size and cost of exhibitors’ stands. Admission prices are likely to be cut from £16 to about £12 with parking probably £3.50 less than the £8.50 charged by the NEC.

Tim Maunder, the SMMT’s motor show organiser, has joined the company running ExCel, the venue for many consumer shows. “We must combine the marketing talents of the industry and at ExCel to make the show a success,” he says. “London has a big design culture we can draw on and we want to create a summer festival atmosphere.”

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