Auto Makers Abandoning The Auto Show Circuit

Ford, Volvo, and Rolls Royce are just some of the automobile manufacturers that won’t be at the Paris auto show this year. Others include Aston Martin and Lamborghini. Volkswagen Group is also scaling back on how much it spends on the Paris show this year. Audi spent more than $11 million on a temporary pavilion, complete with indoor track, at the 2011 show in Frankfurt. The company will engage in no such high priced shenanigans for the Paris show this year.

Rolls Royce will not be at Paris auto show
Rolls Royce Dawn will not appear at this year’s Paris auto show. Photo credit: Rolls Royce

“There used to be the feeling that you had to be at every motor show,” said Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin. “But there are sometimes better ways of doing it than just always spending money on show after show after show.” There is a feeling that the money spent on shows — the glamor, the glitz, the celebrities, and the freebies on offer to show goers — can be put to more productive use in other ways. Some of those new techniques include Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and even the beach.

This summer, Rolls Royce hosted cocktail parties, test drives, and fashion viewings at the beach in Porto Cervo bay in Sardinia, Italy — a favorite destination for the rich and famous. Other companies have sponsored events that were tailored to bloggers and Instagramers who then put photos, videos, and opinions online.

The shows remain popular with the public. Attendance at the 2016 Detroit auto show, North America’s biggest, totaled more than 815,000 people, the highest since 2003. Frankfurt reported a rise in 2015 ticket sales compared to the previous event, and the Paris show in 2014 attracted 1.25 million visitors, making it the industry’s most popular showcase.

But the automobile is changing. Once an iron steed that could set its owner free to travel at will on demand, the car today is more of an appliance and a computer device. That has companies like Ford “taking a new approach to marketing.” In France, it is inviting consumers to take one day test drives across the country instead of exhibiting at the Paris show. It is boosting investments in such “experiential marketing” by 50% this year.

Ford is also spending more time at technology focused events, such as Paris’s Le Web conference on digital innovation. Mitsubishi, when it is not conspiring to cheat on fuel economy tests, has developed a website that lets users take a virtual night time test drive on their smartphones of the new Mirage G4 sedan .

“We are revising our strategy” concerning auto-show attendance, a Lamborghini spokesman said by email. “The world is continuously changing,” and the supercar maker “intends to anticipate these changes.” It would be nice if Ford and other manufacturers expanded the one day test drive idea to include elecrtric cars.

Source: Automotive News

Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.