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Show organisers have changed the format this year to expand the offerings that they see as competing with a range of cultural activities offered around Sydney.
"The Australian Motor Show is the second largest event in New South Wales after the Easter Show," said spokesman Mark Mathot. "We’ve really had to think about how we can maintain a large scale event that appeals to revheads, families, and people from all walks of life," he said.
More than $1.5 million has been spent on marketing and promotion of the new show, which is up 15 per cent on last year’s budget. Last year’s pioneering success of webcasting the show will continue again, with eight hours of live car releases shown via the new website at www.australianmotorshow.com. The website is also selling show tickets for the first time, and offering quicker entry to those who prepurchase online.
There will also be video interviews with industry commentators, car executives and designers available on the internet.
The Great Outdoors
The show is also expanding outside the Darling Harbour Exhibition Hall due to more car makers wanting greater space for the show. Forty three individual brands have confirmed attendance, plus a small area dedicated to retail accessories.
Outdoor activities will range from events around Darling Harbour and the CBD.
"Family Day" is set for November 14 and will feature Australian Idol finalists on a stage sponsored by Mazda. Printed balloons, jugglers, face painting and Geoff Giraffe will also be there with giveaways for young ones.
A 4WD track has also been set up outdoors, and Toyota and VW have booked extensive outdoor stands to show certain types of vehicles such as 4WDs and Kombis.
Sydney Model Autosports will host model car races of miniature Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, Porsche’s and more at lunchtimes in Martin Place.
A new addition inside the Exhibition Hall is the Australian Scooter Federation. The ASF is holding a rally with a demonstration of member’s scooter on a large area in Hall 6. Shannons Unique Vintage cars will also be in Hall 6, plus the Edag concept car and Western Sydney international dragway exhibits.
The usual half-a-dozen or so new car launches, concept cars, and prototype production vehicles will feature at the show, although car makers are being tightlipped about those until the day for maximum impact.
Key among the new offerings is a week-long fashion parade – designed specifically to entice more women to the show.
The motor industry has long had an association with fashion as leading designers often assist with car interiors and vehicle launches. Mercedes also sponsors Australian Fashion Week, recently held in Sydney.
The second week of the motor show will feature two fashion parades each day at 6.30pm and 7pm from Monday to Friday. "There will be one designer per car maker for the five day parade," said event organiser Carlene Clarke. "Brands have aligned with designers that they think create fashion which best reflects the values offered with their cars," Clarke said.
Audi has hooked up with Herringbone. Lexus has Carla Zampatti. Saab and Nicola Fenetti will be an item. Alfa Romeo and Roberto Pierucci are together, and VW will be joined by Zimmermann.
Amidst the razzle dazzle of new metal and fashion parades, there will be one clear theme emerging from the makers showcasing their newest cars: Fuel technology.
It’s the first opportunity that car makers have had to seriously offer cleaner fuel variants, according to Peter Sturrock, CEO of Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).
"Australia this year got an upgrade to a higher standard of diesel fuel that is more aligned with Japan and Europe.
"There is significant interest in engine technology and the types of fuel that new cars can now offer and you’ll see cleaner fuel cars being demonstrated by Peugeot, Alfa Romeo, Volvo, Audi, Mazda, Honda, Saab and many others. The cars will have a much more advanced engines, with better performance in terms of driveability, power, speed and fuel consumption – but also with much cleaner emissions," Sturrock said.
"It’s the first time these cars will have been shown in Australia. LPG, diesel, biodiesel, ethanol, hybrid petrol-electric…you name it and you will see the largest range of fuel types being brought to market this year.
"The show is critical to showcasing these new fuel technologies to show people what each brand is bringing to the Australian market," Sturrock said.
Hybrid petrol-electrics have had only modest success in the past five years, but Sturrock said this year’s show will see brands heavily promote these cars.
"We’ve seen rapid growth from Toyota, Lexus and Honda with these types of cars," he said. "The hybrids use petrol to accelerate the car, but rely on an electric charge generated by the car’s speed to produce braking. That way you only use half the fuel and that’s something Australians are thinking about a lot at the moment."
Sturrock said he still didn’t know what the "hero car" would be at the show, but said this year’s show was particularly important for three new local cars: Holden’s VE Commodore, Toyota’s Camry, plus the six-cylinder Toyota Aurion that is scheduled for release in October.
"These three cars make this show significant because of the export opportunities," Sturrock said.
"Toyota and Holden are aggressively looking to expand their exports to the Middle East, Asia, South Africa and South America, and this show forms part of the strategy for some of those initiatives."