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Australian Motoring Festival signs up big brands


Signing up Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota as featured exhibitors puts the Australian Motoring Festival into early favouritism in the battle to stage an industry-backed 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 new-car 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 festival will offer them the opportunity to connect with the Australian driving public in a new and dynamic way

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.

Ferrari Experience display area will feature 30 years of Ferrari supercar history

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 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.