High time it was show time
A SPOT of cyber archeology unearths the tomb of the Australian International Motor Show. It’s not difficult to find. You needn’t wade into the semilegal swamp of the deep net.
It sits in its public domain, as inert and forgetter as the 2012 plate model no one wants to buy. That was the year AIMS failed, a mere three after the previously rival Sydney and Melbourne events joined forces. The first half of this joint venture consisted of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the self-described “organising body” of the Sydney show, which it stubbornly held at the inadequate and inaccessible Darling Harbour Exhibition Centre. Its Melbourne familiar was the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce.
Having at great length gotten over themselves, these august bodies merged show management, agreeing to host in alternate years. Yet AIMS remains comatose and Australia is without a motor show for the first time since the 1940s.
Scheduling the cancelled 2013 Melbourne edition in the same financial year as the 2012 Sydney event (one poorly attended by car companies and subsequently the public) was not inspired. Carsguide, among others, beseeched organisers to push the 2013 event back from June — barely nine months after Sydney — to September or October.
The “reason” for not doing so, at least as explained to us? Don’t want to clash with the AFL Finals. Of course. Why stage a mass public event at a time when the masses are flooding public spaces ...
On announcing the collapse, AIMS’ spokesman said he “wouldn’t necessarily say” manufacturers were over the thing. He needn’t. They are more than happy to do so.
No, car shows have not been “killed by the internet” as online hacks sagely observe when not compulsively replicating each other’s “stories”. Car shows can and should survive. Anyone who has seen a decent motor expo — a la Frankfurt (pictured) — kind of gets that a web gallery or live feed does not approximate seeing and feeling the metal.
Readers want an Australian motor show. That thousands watch the Top Gear buffoons make fleeting appearances at a track day between smoking cigarettes backstage indicates an appetite for a car show. It’s one shared by many car companies, contingent on their not having to pay excessively in order to cram their wares into a dump. As a showcase for buyers, motor shows are invaluable.
Melbourne, always streets ahead of Sydney in staging special events, looks set to revive the flame next year in what will doubtless be described as Generation Next, interactive, hi-tech fizz feast. Which is nice. But punter participation novelties are the merest sideshows. Fairy floss persiflage. They work only if the basics are in place and that requires a big, open venue where carmakers can display their models (their automotive models, not the humanoid variety with which too many still feel the need to adorn their cars) so that punters can get in and around them.
The formula is not obscure.