EVENT: 4WD AND OVER­LAND EXPO, GER­MANY

Aus­tralian prod­ucts are mak­ing waves at the world’s largest over­land expo, held in Ger­many.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

OVER the past few years there’s been a surge in the num­ber and size of 4WD/ over­land shows around the world, with the Syd­ney, Ade­laide and Perth shows re­port­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of at­ten­dees and ex­hibitors ev­ery year. This pat­tern is not just oc­cur­ring in the South­ern Hemi­sphere ei­ther, with the wellestab­lished Over­land Expo West, held in Ari­zona, USA, also get­ting big­ger ev­ery year – ac­cord­ing to its web­site it claims to be the big­gest show of its kind in the world. How­ever, hav­ing re­cently vis­ited the Aben­teuer & All­rad 4WD and Over­land Expo in Ger­many, that claim is de­bat­able.

The Aben­teuer & All­rad Expo is an an­nual event now in its 18th year. The 2016 show took place in May and was a huge suc­cess, with more than 55,000 vis­i­tors from all over the world de­scend­ing on the small town of Bad Kissin­gen.

THE CAMP­SITE

SIM­I­LAR to the Amer­i­can ex­pos – and un­like the Aus­tralian shows – the Ger­man event pro­vides camp­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

How­ever, find­ing a space to park the Land Rover at the camp­site was a bit of a chal­lenge, as it was full of ev­ery type of 4WD and over­land ve­hi­cle imag­in­able – large trucks, smaller tour­ing Un­i­mogs, Jeeps, Land Rovers, Volk­swa­gens, Toy­otas, Suzukis, Fords and some weird-look­ing rigs that may well have been brewed up in Franken­stein’s lab­o­ra­tory.

With more than 2000 ve­hi­cles parked up, the camp­site was pretty much a show by it­self. We could have hap­pily spent a cou­ple of days check­ing out the huge va­ri­ety of tour­ing ve­hi­cles and camp­ing set-ups.

After find­ing a space and set­ting up camp, it was time for a cold beer before tak­ing a look around. The camp­site had a great at­mos­phere as the crowds set­tled in for three days of Over­land and 4WD ma­nia. The sun was shin­ing and ev­ery­one was smil­ing (noth­ing to do with the cheap Ger­man beer, of course). With the bar­be­cues burn­ing, the beers flow­ing and the hum of ban­ter amongst en­thu­si­asts from all walks of life, we knew it was go­ing to be a great cou­ple of days.

SHOW TIME

THE show is held in the small town of Bad Kissin­gen, about 140km east of Frank­furt. With Ital­ian, Swiss, Bri­tish, French, Swedish, Ger­man, Nor­we­gian, Ir­ish and a few Aus­tralian, South African, Amer­i­can, Brazil­ian and Mex­i­can flags fly­ing, this was a multi­na­tional 4WD gath­er­ing. Late ar­rivals set up camp in shop­ping car parks, on the sides of roads and even in the mid­dle of round­abouts.

The show fo­cuses on all things 4WD, with cross-coun­try ve­hi­cles of all shapes and sizes on dis­play in the gen­er­ous 110,000m² ex­hi­bi­tion space. With more than 250 ex­hibitors show­cas­ing and sell­ing 4WD ac­ces­sories and camp­ing prod­ucts, you need a cou­ple of days to see ev­ery­thing on dis­play.

Sim­i­lar to the Aus­tralian shows, this one in­cor­po­rates cus­tom-made off-road tracks, where vis­i­tors can drive a num­ber of ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing trucks, quads and the lat­est 4WDS. The expo also fea­tures or­gan­ised travel talks from Europe’s well-known glo­be­trot­ters, while off-road travel com­pa­nies show off their most pop­u­lar off-road ex­pe­di­tions.

AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE

AUS­TRALIAN prod­ucts and brands were well-rep­re­sented at the expo, and among the Aus­tralian ex­hibitors present at this year’s event were TJM, Iron­man, Ter­rain Tamer, 3DOG Camp­ing and Oz­tent.

We spoke with some of the key per­son­al­i­ties who were in­tro­duc­ing Aus­tralian-made 4WD ac­ces­sories and camp prod­ucts to Europe. One of these guys was An­dreas Bauhofer, oper­a­tions man­ager for Style-x, a lead­ing Euro­pean au­to­mo­bile prod­uct provider who re­cently be­came the Euro­pean dis­trib­u­tors for Iron­man 4x4 prod­ucts.

An­dreas high­lighted that Aus­tralian af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sories are well­re­spected in Europe for their qual­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity, and that’s why Style-x de­cided to be­come the Euro­pean dis­trib­u­tors. He was also quick to re­mind me that the found­ing mem­ber of Iron­man 4x4 came orig­i­nally from Ger­many – he moved to Aus­tralia, where the Ja­cob fam­ily started to make springs for horse car­riages back in the 1930s.

An­dreas ex­plained that since be­com­ing the Euro­pean dis­trib­u­tor, Style-x has been busy work­ing on se­cur­ing Euro­pean cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for some of the Iron­man 4x4 prod­ucts as the re­quire­ments are dif­fer­ent in Europe. He also high­lighted that since em­brac­ing the Aus­tralian brand just over a year ago they have had a lot of in­ter­est in Iron­man’s sus­pen­sion, winches and camp­ing prod­ucts.

He told us that re­cov­ery gear isn’t as pop­u­lar in Europe as it is in Aus­tralia, as the sheer vol­ume of ac­ces­si­ble off-road tracks in Europe is rel­a­tively limited in com­par­i­son to what’s avail­able in Aus­tralia. The main re­cov­ery gear mar­ket, he says, would come from the es­tab­lished 4WD clubs and, of course, over­lan­ders.

An­dreas also high­lighted that Style-x pro­duces con­ver­sion kits for var­i­ous ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing Fords. This in­cludes a com­plete body kit, leather in­te­rior, steer­ing wheel, sus­pen­sion, wheels and colour di­als.

Style-x launched the Ford Ranger M Sport con­ver­sion at the expo, right out the front of the Iron­man 4x4 stand.

An­dreas says he will be launch­ing the Ford Ranger kit in South Africa this sum­mer before it will come to Aus­tralia, and they make it avail­able world­wide.

Next, we stopped by the TJM stall to chat to Ger­not Tonauer (gen­eral man­ager), Marko Lind­heimer (se­nior ex­ec­u­tive man­ager) and Ros­marie Reiss (pro­ject man­ager for off-road com­po­nents).

Ger­not said they were very happy to be the Euro­pean dis­trib­u­tors for TJM and have been de­vel­op­ing the busi­ness since 2012, and are con­tin­u­ing to build it by seek­ing re­tail­ers for TJM prod­ucts through­out Europe.

Sim­i­lar to Iron­man 4x4, they are also busy se­cur­ing ap­proval to sell the full range of TJM prod­ucts; so far only a hand­ful of prod­ucts have not met the spe­cific re­quire­ments.

Euro­pean reg­u­la­tions are very dif­fer­ent to those in Aus­tralia when it comes to bull­bars – well, you don’t have kan­ga­roos hop­ping around the round­about at the Champs-el­y­sees.

Gernout high­lighted that TJM awnings and roof-top tents are be­com­ing ex­tremely pop­u­lar across Europe. Other prod­ucts do­ing well in­clude space cases, com­pres­sors and re­cov­ery gear.

Ter­rain Tamer was rep­re­sented and had a great se­lec­tion of Toy­otas at their stand, in­clud­ing an FJ45, the BJ40 Se­ries, and the more re­cent Land Cruis­ers. The life-sized card­board cutouts of Al­lan Gray scat­tered around the place were also hard to miss.

Ter­rain Tamer is well es­tab­lished in Europe, hav­ing been in Ger­many since 2008. Re­tail­ing un­der the fa­mous Tom’s Fahrzeugtech­nik brand, Ter­rain Tamer prod­ucts are also dis­trib­uted to the Balkan coun­tries and its best-sell­ing prod­ucts are the gear­box/re­build kits.

The Aus­tralian-de­signed 3DOG camper trailer and roof-top tents stand also at­tracted droves of vis­i­tors. 3DOG’S mar­ket­ing man­ager, Eric, told me 3DOG campers are now also be­ing pro­duced in Ham­burg, us­ing the same high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als as those of its sis­ter com­pany in Aus­tralia.

Other prod­ucts on dis­play in­cluded the Oz­tent range of camp­ing gear stocked by Euro­pean dis­trib­u­tors.

GIVE IT A GO!

THE gen­eral feel­ing among the dis­trib­u­tors was that the Aus­tralian prod­ucts en­ter­ing the Euro­pean mar­ket are well-re­ceived, as they have been tested in some of the harsh­est con­di­tions in the world. Show or­gan­iser Thomas Sch­midt reck­ons that three to four per cent of the to­tal 55,000 vis­i­tors were Aus­tralian, and that there have been in­creases both in the num­ber of Aus­tralian-made prod­ucts ex­hibit­ing at the show and Aussie vis­i­tors at­tend­ing.

The 2017 Aben­teuer & All­rad 4WD Expo will take place June 15-18. We reckon all keen tour­ers, four-wheel driv­ers and campers should make the pil­grim­age to this huge fes­ti­val at least once in their life­time. If you do plan to at­tend, make sure you get in early and stay in the des­ig­nated camp­site!

For €10 you can drive this beast on the off-road course. More than 55,000 peo­ple at­tended the show over three days.

There was no short­age of Euro-built trucks on dis­play.

The Land Rover ex­pe­ri­ence proved ex­tremely pop­u­lar. Some­thing for ev­ery­one, even the kids! Dif­fer­ent coun­try, same sim­ple plea­sure.

Aussie brands bring out­back tough­ness to the Euro­pean mar­ket.

Un­der the bon­net it’s got about half a cow­power.

Plenty of De­fend­ers on dis­play.

The sun goes down over the packed camp­ground at what is now the big­gest over­land show on the planet.

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