Steane Klose | Mar 18, 2009

Our most recent poll signals more problems ahead for Motor Shows in Australia. Of the nearly 700 responses to the TMR poll, 45 percent responded that Motor Shows had become "a giant yawn".

A further 31 percent responded that they would like to see "more concept cars and show specials", while just 8 percent chose the response that Motor Shows "are just right as they are". The remainder, 16 percent, attend Motor Shows to compare cars they are considering buying.

The poll, conducted during the running of the Melbourne Motor Show, and underscored by the disappointing attendance numbers, indicates that the public may be tiring of the traditional motor show format.

Information provided to The Motor Report by an exhibitor at this year's event puts total attendance at the 2009 Show at just 157,000.

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These numbers are down a staggering 91,000 visitors on the 2008 event which had a reported 248,000 attendees filling the Melbourne convention centre.

In our view, that 36 percent drop in attendance is not explained by the economic downturn nor by the drop in new car sales in Australia. There would appear to be other factors at work.

So what went wrong?

When the feature release on the Holden stand is a four cylinder Cruze, there will always be problems pulling a crowd. The Show this year was a low-key affair as far as local manufacturers were concerned.

No risk, the Holden Coupe 60 and the release of the FG Falcon range was a factor in the record numbers at the 2008 Show. It's the local brands that generate the column inches in the press, and pull the crowds.

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So with the Cruze, a fuel-sipping Fiesta, and the new Prius leading the charge for the local manufacturers at this year's event, attendances were always going to be down. But even these factors do not explain the collapse in numbers through the doors.

Motor Shows overseas have had similar problems. The TMR poll would suggest that manufacturers and show organisers need to do more than provide brightly-lit static displays if they are to avoid views it has all become a "giant yawn".

On nearly any model you care to name, internet news sites such as The Motor Report are filled with details and images from overseas sources well before the curtain goes up on the Motor Show.

In The Motor Report's view, and clearly that of our readers, if next year's Australian International Motor Show in Sydney is to succeed, manufacturers and the joint venture Show organisers will need to provide a more exciting show 'experience', with more show specials and with displays and events that really engage visitors.

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