Shows must go on
JUMBO jets have shrunk the world and compressed the car business into a series of hops around the globe.
These days it’s easy to jump to Japan to see Mitsubishi plotting its comeback campaign, travel to Thailand to view new Fords and Hondas being bolted together for Australia, and exit to Europe to sample the excellence of the new VW Golf.
This time, the big Boeing is over the Pacific and the destination is Los Angeles.
By the time you read this, the last big motor show of 2012 will be in full swing and we’ll be talking about everything from a new Kia Cerato to a Porsche Cayman and a replacement for the Toyota RAV4.
That’s the way it works. There was a time when shows were about selling, and the smart companies still converted a lot of customers in Sydney last month during the Australian International Motor Show. But the big global events are about making an instant impact. That’s why the motor-noters rack up so many frequent flyer miles to Detroit, Geneva, Beijing, Frankfurt, Chicago and Tokyo, none of them remotely near the top of the holiday list.
It’s slightly different with the Paris, New York and Los Angeles shows, because those are cities where you would actually like to take a break. But a major motor show is an 18-hour-a-day grind that’s packed with bright lights, new arrivals, executive briefings and pressure. You want to know, we want to show, so there is a deadline every minute.
But, just before the battle begins, there’s a little time to think. California has been car central in the US since the 1960s and the LA show is now a major event for the likes of Kia, Lexus and Porsche, who see it as the best way to drive a wedge into the world’s biggest car market. More than a dozen Australian journalists will race to get the news home, because Australians are even more passionate about cars than the freeway-driven Angelinos. But I cannot shift focus from my three-year-old, Eli, and what he would take out of LA. The new cars would be fun for a while and he knows a bit about what his dad does, but he would be much more likely to be laughing at Disneyland, racing to see Mickey.
Within weeks of another flight home, a couple of days at the beach and some boys’ time at the driving range, there will be the Detroit show in January — the start of another year on the show circuit.
Essen is more: Finn Antti Rahko with his hand-made ‘Finnjet’ at Germany’s Essen Motor Show. The $US1m vehicle has eight wheels, 10 seats and weighs 3.4tonnes