2015 AUSTRALIAN MOTORING FESTIVAL DETAILS
Speaking to media today, VACC executive director David Purchase said that showgoers can expect a dramatically different experience to previous motor shows, while carmakers will spend a fraction of the usual cost to participate.
Mr Purchase said that while motor shows are traditionally a “look but don’t touch” affair, visitors to the new festival will be invited to interact with the cars and motorcycles on display, with the opportunity to test new models on a range of surfaces and courses.
The program will also allow showgoers to experience new technologies like autonomous parking and collision avoidance, and a number of off-road systems.
Up to 100 new models will be available for test, allowing for over 10,000 five-minute drive experiences.
Interactive motor shows are an approach that has been tried before in Australia, but never, Mr Purchase said, on this level and at such a large scale.
“We want this to be Australia’s Goodwood Festival,” he added, referring to the British event that showcases new and classic cars, partnered with amateur and professional driving events.
Confirmed today, standard ticket pricing for the event will be $60 for a family and $30 for singles.
By comparison, the 2012 Sydney Motor Show (AIMS) saw families pay nearly $50 and singles just over $20.
But, while the AMF will be marginally more expensive, families will be encouraged to see the festival as a “whole day event” for young and old, with the Melbourne Showgrounds to host an event that will include rides, auctions, test drives and live performances.
RACV’s 2.1 million members will benefit further, with family tickets at $40 and singles at $20.
Mr Purchase said he expects to see more than 100,000 people attend over the four days, compared to 58,000 over the first three days of the Sydney AIMS in 2012.
“That’s a conservative estimate,” Mr Purchase said. “I would be bitterly disappointed if we did not see least 100,000”.
And while that estimate falls well short of the huge 200,000+ crowds of the early 2000s (Melbourne even saw 320,000 in 2001), there are more compelling reasons for carmakers to get involved with the new show.
Chief among them is cost.
Carmakers have admitted to spending upwards of $1 million on floor space, glitzy displays and staffing at the expensive shows of years gone by, leading eventually to many brands pulling out and the AIMS joint venture winding up.
For this new interactive festival format, carmakers will spend closer to $100,000. That amount would buy a 300 square-metre ‘lot’ at the showgrounds, although they would have the opportunity to buy multiple lots for a larger display space.
Carmakers will also be treated to a more flexible approach to designing their display space and test drive programs, rather than being locked into a static display with little more than rotating platforms and large video screens.
The Festival has yet to confirm which brands will be involved, however: “we’ve only sent out the prospectus this week,” Mr Purchase said.
“We have had a tremendous interest in the event, I can say that most of the major manufacturers have been in contact with us and we expect a good participation level.”
Mr Purchase said that the show’s format has been developed with feedback from carmakers, each expressing desire for greater interactivity, a shorter overall show and a smaller spend.
“With this festival, we’ve easily delivered on those needs,” he said. “We’re already running short of space and we’ve laid out plans for two-thirds of the Showgrounds property as it is.”
"We don't want elaborate stands, and neither do the carmakers. We want to put a car on the floor, get test drives going, and that's all you need."
Brands have been moving toward a more interactive experience for buyers. In Australia, that has included Ford’s driving opportunities at the 2012 AIMS show in Sydney, and Toyota also hosts an off-road experience as part of its sponsorship with the Tamworth Music Festival.
Last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show also saw an expansive elevated driving track operated by BMW for showgoers to experience its new i3 and other models.
“This is exactly what the industry, and the market, has been asking for.”
For now, the event will be a Melbourne-only festival, but there is potential to take the show on the road.
“We'll run this one in Victoria, make it a success, and see what comes after," Mr Purchase said.
The festival’s layout and driving courses, now into its fourth iteration, is the work of engineer, event organiser and racing driver Renato Loberto, whose company MotoKinetic helped to develop the Top Gear Live show in Sydney and this year’s Ferrari Race Day event.
Organisers have also called on actor and motoring enthusiast Shane Jacobson to promote the event, presenting today’s media briefing.
The 2015 Australian Motoring Fesitval will be held in Melbourne on March 26 to March 29.