Daniel Puddicombe's blog: 28 May - Too many questions over London motor show
28 May 2015
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
Once the headline-grabbing price of £13 a ticket is taken away, the 2016 London motor show lacks appeal in comparison to other motor shows.
At least's the conclusion that I came to after spending the majority of Wednesday evening at St James's Palace's Royal Apartments along with many connected with the industry.
For record, I wanted to write a blog post saying how great the London motor show will be next May, but I can't.
There was an air of optimism and hope about the evening, probably helped by the location and one of the key speakers - Prince Michael of Kent.
While good points were made about the show compared to the London event at Excel in 2008, it did feel a bit like the organisers were beating a dead horse to death a little - I think that most people in the room are aware what a good shape the industry is in at the moment, but in 2008 China's car market was nothing like it is today.
The normal arguments of London being the biggest capital city in Europe and other major cities having a motor show reared their heads again, but I think the dates chosen for the show will affect it too.
The Commercial Vehicle Show is due to take place in April and Goodwood's Moving Motor Show - which has grown into an effective replacement for the old British motor show after it disappeared - takes place in June each year.
With this new London motor show set to take place between 5-8 May will there be too many UK motor shows in a quick burst? I think so.
Last night, Prince Michael named three manufacturers that had given "multi-million pound" investments. When he spoke of that, there was a bit of excitement, just as there was when it was announced that drivers would be taken by helicopter to Brands Hatch to test-drive cars if they wanted to.
Only this morning I was informed that he had "mis-spoken" last night; apparently he was refering to the multi-million investments the three manufacturers - Aston Martin, JLR and Geely - have made in the UK's manufacturing sector.
And the helicopter flights to race tracks? Apparently talks are ongoing between the powers that be.
It's all well and good arranging for a motor show and charging next-to-nothing to get in, but punters won't come in unless there's a good reason to. If manufacturers aren't showcasing their new vehicles, why would you come to a motor show?
Prince Michael said he wants the London show to rival the likes of Geneva and Paris, but that won't happen unless the vast majority of the manufacturers that currently sell in the UK sign up to exhibit at the show.
As it stands, zero manufacturers have signed up and from the few that I've spoken to said they went along to the preview evening to get a taste of things and would consider plans in the coming months.
However, Prince Michael is due to meet with the SMMT's chief executive, Mike Hawes, today, so there may be a green light at the end of the tunnel.
I also thought it was good that Leon Daniels and Transport for London back the show. He stood up and explained how the motoring industry has helped delay EU's fine for exceeding air pollution limits by a few months because of the advancement in technology.
It was also encouraging also to hear him voice his support for London's car clubs.
If - and it is a big if - the organisers can get the backing of the industry, I think it could be a success - the location is great, and as mentioned before, the ticket price is low enough for a family to consider popping into London for the day. The royal connection will help the show, too.
But at the moment, a family planning a day into London to look at some cars seems unlikely. It won't happen without the backing of the major market players.
Will the team behind the show convince manufacturers to sign up for a stand at next year's London motor show? Only time will tell, but at the moment, I wouldn't bet your house on it.