LIVE ISSUE: Revolution at the motor fair - The exodus of car manufacturers from the London Motor Show has forced the organiser to rethink the whole look of the event. Mike Fletcher gets an exclusive look at the new designs

In November, the Volkswagen Group, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot

pulled out of this year's London Motor Show. By March, Volvo, Mazda and

Ford had joined the exodus, as well as Toyota, Lexus and Daewoo.



The problem was an industry strapped for cash - and exhibiting at motor

shows can be an expensive business. The event, due to take place from

17-28 October, seemed in deep trouble and organiser Clarion Events went

back to the drawing board to see what could be done. In April, the

company brought on board Tim Pyne, creative director at design agency

Work. His appointment was part of a pounds 1m crisis fund to revise the

show's format.



This is a first exclusive look at the finished designs for the new

London Motor Show.



Cost-effective



The concept is the brainchild of Clarion managing director Andrew

Morris. Along with show director Mark Saunders, the pair hope it will

not only boost direct sales and successful leads at the show, but will

also tempt those manufacturers that have pulled out to reconsider this

new cost-effective way to exhibit. 'The entire London Motor Show is now

owned by the organiser. No manufacturer will be allowed to have its own

stand,' says Pyne. 'There will be a number of themed stands and

manufacturers will be invited to exhibit their cars next to each other

in these feature areas. It costs from pounds 500,000 to pounds 1m to

build a motor show stand and the financial problems facing the industry

have been well publicised. This concept will allow companies to exhibit

without breaking their budgets.'



At last year's British International Motor Show at the NEC, Toyota

reportedly spent pounds 1m while Mercedes forked out pounds 800,000 on

hiring equipment and staffing its stand. Under the revised London show

concept, manufacturers will be charged pounds 10,000 for a showcase slot

on one of the themed areas.



Immediate issues that arise from this unique approach to exhibiting cars

is the issue of brand awareness. Will car manufacturers accept that they

need to exhibit alongside their rivals in an area of equal branding? The

answer may be found in the statistic that one-third of new car sales

occur in the South East, from which you can conclude that the London

Motor Show is vital to the industry and must evolve if it is to

survive.



Positive reaction



'We have approached manufacturers and they have all reacted positively

to the plans. Marketing benefits and brand communication strategies are

better suited to the international shows. The London show is a consumer

event and the car companies recognise that this format will improve

sales,' says Saunders.



Consumer magazine Autocar, however, says Vauxhall - the manufacturer

that has always publicly backed the show - has voiced concerns over the

new format.



'As a punter, I would welcome this approach. But where is our focal

point? We want people to see the Vauxhall brand rather than a selection

of cars scattered around the show,' a Vauxhall spokesman says.



Enhanced experience



The aim of the new format is that the busy businesswoman looking to buy

a sports car can save herself time trudging around all the stands. All

she needs to do is go to the relevant feature area and compare models

from all the manufacturers. 'It is critical that these areas are

designed properly to avoid the hall looking like a massive car park,'

Pyne says.



'The designs we have come up with will enhance the whole visitor

experience of attending a motor show and should create a lot of interest

from around the world.'



Designs still to be developed include two feature areas entitled One

Careful Owner and Changing Cars, which will look at the trends in car

design over the next ten years. 'We have also discovered two new

categories that need to be represented - medium sized cars and

recreational vehicles,' Pyne says. 'There has never been an exhibition

that will be quite like this. It promises to appeal to a huge

market.'



EXECUTIVE AND SMALL EXECUTIVE CARS



Vehicles will be displayed on leather plinths, while the floor will be

an enlarged chalkline pin-striped carpet. Large-scale black executive

desk lamps will hang over the cars.



FAMILY CARS



Lighting from floor troughs will be reflected by huge yellow, shiny

balloons hanging from the ceiling. Large leatherette beanbags will

provide an area in which children can relax or play.



CITY AND SUPERMINIS



Urban roadscape design will feature billboard architecture, with

lighting provided by large-scale parking meters. Actors dressed as

traffic wardens will provide interactivity.



SMALL CARS



Vehicles will be displayed on plinths designed as first-class postage

stamps, with the gridded flooring providing the feel of a stamp album.

Giant magnifying glasses will hang overhead.



MULTI-PURPOSE VEHICLES



The floor will be treated as a road outside a school with white zigzags.

Large Belisha beacons will stand along side the cars with lighting from

large-scale Stop Children signs hanging overhead.



TWO WHEELS



Represents the cycle lane at the front of the traffic lights where all

the bikes stop. According to designer Tim Pyne, car owners will

instantly recognise this design.



COUPES AND OPEN CARS



Vehicles will be exhibited on a screen-printed sky floor. Giant

floor-standing fans will provide a wind-in-the-hair driving environment.

Lighting will come from large curved sunlamps.



4X4s



The area will be designed as a rural idyll. Real manicured trees and

privet-hedges will divide the cars. The flooring will be created from

field turf and the trees will feature dice-faces with lighting support.




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