That’s that: the national and state pairing that managed the final three Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) events has come to an end.
In a statement released today, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) confirmed a formal end to the partnership that put on the 2010 and 2012 Sydney shows, and the 2011 Melbourne show.
Hope is not lost, however, with today’s announcement also bringing news that VACC is planning a major motoring event in Melbourne for 2015.
“The cessation of the joint venture does not spell the end of Motor Shows in Australia. Plans are at an advanced stage for a motoring event in Melbourne in 2015,” the statement reads.
“The event will include manufacturers and importers, and also motoring clubs, vehicle displays and exhibitions. It will be dynamic and interactive and provide audience participation at a suitable venue where visitors can test drive a range of makes and models.”
Speaking with TMR today, VACC Executive Director David Purchase said that the new event will have a greater focus on interactivity, offering visitors a more hands-on experience.
Mr Purchase described an event that will offer a more family-friendly environment, with activities for the kids, musical acts, a potential fashion parade, motoring club awards and VACC's own design award.
"The event, which we're thinking of as more of a 'motoring festival', will bring a new level of interaction, rather than the mostly static displays of past events," Mr Purchase said.
"That's not to say we won't ever return to the traditional motor-show model, with international shows proving that those types of shows do work, but we consider this a pilot program that will appeal to changing tastes and preferences among consumers."
The show, which is likely to add a larger outdoor component, is also expected to bring a wider range of vehicle types to the show, growing beyond passenger vehicles to include trucks and motorcycles.
Mr Purchase added that while the event is likely to occur sometime in March next year, details of the venue cannot yet be confirmed.
"We're moving closer to a decision, but as an outdoor event, we'd be looking at somewhere like the [Royal Melbourne] Showgrounds or Sandown [Raceway]," Mr Purchase said.
The move away from Melbourne's Convention and Exhibition Centre is not surprising, with manufacturer sources telling TMR in years past that floorspace for the 10-day event had come close to $2 million for the larger brands.
Cost remains a consideration for carmakers, however, and Mr Purchase said the new show will combine a shorter period - a single three- to four-day event - with greater exposure, accessibility and interactivity.
Mr Purchase said that not all brands are expected to get involved, but a number of top marques have confirmed interest.
The last AIMS, held in Sydney in 2012, saw a number of major marques opt out, including Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari and Jeep.
The announcement of a new show comes after it was confirmed last year that the 2014 Sydney event had been cancelled - news that came just three months after the 2013 Melbourne show was written off.
"VACC and FCAI have mutually agreed that the time is right to develop a new-look motor event, thus rendering redundant the existing business arrangement between the two organisations," today's VACC/FCAI statement read.
However, discussions between the two groups concluded that a new joint motoring event would not likely occur before 2016 - a period that Mr Purchase described as "too long between drinks".
In the interim, VACC will push forward with the new festival-inspired format.
Groups in other states have made similar attempts to move away from the traditional motor-show format to a more festival-like experience - including events in Perth and Brisbane - but success has been hard to come by.
The past year has also seen carmakers direct motor-show budgets to more focused events, including Subaru's WRX dealer roadshow, Mazda's Melbourne Mazda3 event, and Ford's Sydney reveal of the new Mustang and the Everest SUV.
It appears however the time is again right for a major Australian motor show, and Melbourne will once again play host - for the first time in four years, and 90 years since the first Melbourne Motor Show in 1925.
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation yesterday confirmed plans to build a larger consumer-focused motor show as part of the Formula 1 festivities, although it remains unclear if more carmakers will be prepared to get involved.