The bid beat off competition from two other consortia - Haymarket Exhibitions with the NEC, and Earls Court & Olympia Group with Clarion Events - to secure the 10-year deal. The biennial Birmingham-based Motor Show will now return to London after almost 30 years and will take place from 12-23 July 2006.
"While we understand this decision will come as a disappointment to the midlands, the reality is that Excel presented a very strong bid while the NEC was unable to deliver a proposal that responded to market demands," said SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan.
Excel deputy chief executive and managing director Kevin Murphy said: "We are delighted. This will utilise our 100-acre campus and create the most spectacular motoring festival environment and atmosphere. Feature areas will include drive-in movies, test tracks, a live action arena and an area for Grand Prix powerboat demonstrations."
The first motor show took place at Crystal Palace in 1903. From 1937 to 1976 it was held at Earls Court before moving to the NEC in 1978. London's Mayor Ken Livingstone stated: "This is great news for London. The organisers have recognised the exceptional appeal of our world-class city."
Earls Court & Olympia chief executive Anthony Lyons declined to comment on losing out to Excel. But NEC Group chief executive Andrew Morris predicted a backlash from motor manufacturers. "Given the support that we were enjoying for our new proposals we are incredulous about this decision," he said.
"I would not be at all surprised if we see defections from the show. We will watch with interest and clearly we need to learn the lessons from this experience."
See Analysis, page 17.