A mo­tor city show­down

Pres­tige brands want one mo­tor show in Aus­tralia, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

THE fu­ture of big mo­tor shows in Aus­tralia will be de­cided by the end of the year. Pres­tige brands, led by Mercedes-Benz and BMW, want to trig­ger a show­down be­tween Syd­ney and Melbourne to force the cre­ation of a new Aus­tralian mo­tor show to al­ter­nate be­tween the cap­i­tals.

Benz re­fused to take part in the Melbourne Mo­tor Show last month and has just been joined by BMW in a boy­cott of the Syd­ney show in Oc­to­ber.

The two com­pa­nies are hop­ing other brands will join them and will be push­ing their plan through the car in­dus­try’s peak body, the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries.

‘‘We think two mo­tor shows a year for Aus­tralia is too much,’’ Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Horst von San­den says.

‘‘We want to have one mo­tor show, ideally al­ter­nat­ing be­tween Syd­ney and Melbourne.’’

His view is shared by the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of BMW Aus­tralia, Guen­ther See­man, who says many of the world’s big shows run only ev­ery sec­ond year. He cites the sit­u­a­tion in Europe, where the Paris show is held one year and Frank­furt’s the next.

‘‘If Ger­many and France can have an agree­ment and make it work, why not Syd­ney and Melbourne?’’ See­man asks.

He has just an­nounced BMW will not be in­volved in this year’s Syd­ney Mo­tor Show and will ex­tend the ban un­til the sit­u­a­tion is re­solved. But he does hold out a big car­rot.

‘‘Once we have one show, I will be pre­pared to dou­ble the bud­get,’’ See­man says.

The chief of the Melbourne show, Russ Tyrie of the Vic­to­rian Au­to­mo­bile Cham­ber of Com­merce, says he saw the con­flict com­ing, but has no plans to change.

‘‘I think it’s im­por­tant to the con­sumers of Vic­to­ria to have a show ev­ery year,’’ he says.

Car com­pa­nies can do what they like— he has his own com­mit­ments.

‘‘It’s a po­si­tion they are en­ti­tled to take. I guess a lot of oth­ers need to be con­sulted on any plan,’’ he says.

Mercedes says it is work­ing on a firm pro­posal. ‘‘We clearly said we have to make a point and show we are se­ri­ous about it,’’ von San­den says. ‘‘But I would not say, at this stage, we will not come back.

‘‘We will def­i­nitely not do two mo­tor shows ever again.

‘‘We have dumped Melbourne and Syd­ney for this year. That de­ci­sion has been made and an­nounced to the FCAI.

‘‘We have made that de­ci­sion for our­selves. It is for other com­pa­nies to de­cide what they want to do.’’

Von San­den be­lieves BMW will be the first of sev­eral brands to join the push for one show.

Go­ing strong: the Melbourne Mo­tor Show will con­tinue to be held an­nu­ally, spokesman Russ Tyrie says.

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