Show nabs big wheels

Benz, Fer­rari and Toy­ota are back­ing next month’s Mel­bourne auto event

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

SIGN­ING up Fer­rari, Mercedes-Benz and Toy­ota as fea­tured ex­hibitors puts the Aus­tralian Mo­tor­ing Fes­ti­val into early favouritism in the battle to stage an in­dus­try­backed au­to­mo­tive show.

The fes­ti­val, an ini­tia­tive of the Vic­to­rian Au­to­mo­tive Cham­ber of Com­merce and the Royal Auto Club of Vic­to­ria, is set for the Mel­bourne Show­grounds on March 26-29.

Ri­val event Mo­tor­world, or­gan­ised by event spe­cial­ist De­fin­i­tive Events, is at Sandown Race­way in Novem­ber. With the luxury of time on its side, it is ex­pected to name its first ex­hibitors in May.

Australia hasn’t had a new­car show since the fi­nal Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show in Syd­ney in 2012, which folded be­cause of a lack of man­u­fac­turer sup­port.

The in­dus­try con­sen­sus is that only one of the two new shows can sur­vive long-term.

Mercedes-Benz spokesman Jerry Sta­moulis won’t be drawn on whether the brand has signed up for the Novem­ber show: “At this stage we are yet to come a con­clu­sion re­gard­ing other up­com­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties such as Mo­tor­world.”

The Aus­tralian Mo­tor­ing Fes­ti­val re­lease says: “It will dif­fer from a tra­di­tional dis­play-style mo­tor show by pro­vid­ing vis­i­tors with mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­ter­act with ve­hi­cles and ve­hi­cle tech­nol­ogy through test drives and sim­u­la­tion.”

VACC ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Ge­off Gwilym says the in­volve­ment of Fer­rari, Mercedes-Benz and Toy­ota will give car en­thu­si­asts a di­verse mix of ve­hi­cles and ex­pe­ri­ences.

“Th­ese three global brands are among the largest in the in­dus­try across the luxury sports, pres­tige and ev­ery­day cat­e­gories,” he says. “We are con­fi­dent the fes­ti­val will of­fer them the op­por­tu­nity to connect with the Aus­tralian driv­ing public in a new and dy­namic way.”

Mercedes-Benz Australia CEO Horst von San­den says the in­ter­ac­tiv­ity is part of the ap­peal, en­abling the maker to show the lat­est safety tech­nol­ogy and per­for­mance ve­hi­cles. He tips the brand will have “a few sur­prise ve­hi­cles”.

Fer­rari Aus­trala­sia CEO Her­bert Ap­pleroth echoes the view. “This is a unique op­por­tu­nity for lovers of cars to get close and per­sonal with our brand and our beau­ti­ful ve­hi­cles,” he says. “Our Fer­rari Ex­pe­ri­ence dis­play area will fea­ture 30 years of Fer­rari su­per­car his­tory and a stunning show­room with the lat­est range of Fer­rari road cars.”

Toy­ota Australia south­ern re­gional manager Stephen Slater says that en­thu­si­asts can “look, feel and touch all the dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles in our ex­ten­sive range and ex­pe­ri­ence the tech­nol­ogy in an in­ter­est­ing, in­ter­ac­tive en­vi­ron­ment”.

Fes­ti­val tick­ets start from $30 for adults and $20 for chil­dren, with dis­counts for RACV and VACC mem­bers.

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