Special Report on the Motor Show (3): There's no business like show business: Anthony Lewis reports on a cost-effective way for car makers to demonstrate their wares to the public

AN international motor show is simply a huge car showroom. About 700,000 people usually visit the biennial International Motor Show at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre.

Two years ago the traditional October date, which coincides with school half-term, was moved to September to try to steal some of the glory from the Paris Motor Show, which alternates with Frankfurt as the main autumn show for continental Europe.

But attendance at Birmingham dipped to 452,704 from a healthy 720,326 in 1988, and 647,977 in 1986, so this year's return to traditional dates has been welcomed by manufacturers, who generally like to have children around.

'All our research shows that people's views of motor cars are formed quite young, so there's no harm in having children there,' says Michael Cornish, marketing director of VAG (UK). 'The motor industry is so important for young people's future and it's also very complex so it's good for them to see it close up.'

Manufacturers will spend about pounds 50m between them on their stands, but despite the expense of staging the show it is still a cost-effective way to show their wares. 'It's an opportunity for us to flag where we are going and to project our technology,' says Mr Cornish.

His view is shared by Paul Thomas, product marketing manager with Ford. He says: 'When we showed our Escort Seeker, the leisure and camping styling exercise, two years ago, the reaction was tremendous. A motor show is a good sounding board for ideas, we get very good feedback.'

Like Mr Cornish, Mr Thomas believes that a motor show is a good place for a company to signal its direction - Ford's links with Formula One motor racing and rallying will be apparent to visitors to the stand.

Some may mourn that the days seem to have gone for ever when new models were saved to be unveiled to an eager public, and even more eager press corps. 'It's much harder to keep a new car under wraps these days,' said Mr Thomas. 'We do extensive testing, putting cars out to high-mileage fleet users for example, and we take a European and often global view of our new products so to target any one show is difficult.'

Marc Raven, marketing operations manager for Citroen UK. says that as a shop window, a motor show is 'a lovely way of displaying your wares in front of everyone.'

He believes that from a customer's point of view shows can also be very time saving. He says: 'They can make a direct comparison with other manufacturers so it's important for us to make a positive image to potential customers.'

But he thinks a show in April or May could be better than the traditional October slot. The autumn dates for the Frankfurt and Paris shows mean that customers can order their cars for the new year, which is the traditional peak selling time for most of Europe. 'A spring show would mean hitting our August peak, which commercially would make sense.'

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine