A motor city showdown
Prestige brands want one motor show in Australia, writes PAUL GOVER
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.