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Motor Show Or Motor No-Show?

Porsche 911 GT1-98 at AIMS 2010 in Sydney
I love a good motor show. Since a young age, the journey to the Melbourne Motor Show has been an annual ritual. Until last year that is. For the first time in my lifetime, there was no motor show in Melbourne for 2010. Thanks to a new agreement between the organisers of the respective shows in Melbourne and Sydney, a show would occur in each city in alternating years. This came after industry pressure for a single show shared between the two cities, and struggles experienced by organisers of shows in lesser Australian cities. But was this enough to save the motor show from the jaws of the internet generation? Or are high-cost events that seem to cater to an increasingly niche audience headed for extinction?

Eager to satisfy my desire for a good motor show, I travelled to Sydney last October for the 2010 Australian International Motorshow (AIMS). While it was a thoroughly enjoyable show, it seemed to lack some of the flair of previous Melbourne shows. I can't quite put my finger on it, maybe it was the fact the most exciting product launches at the show were both utes, or maybe it was just the conspicuous absence of a handful of notable brands such as BMW and Alfa Romeo.

In the eighty-six years since Melbourne's first motor show was held in 1925, motor shows have become less about displays to the average consumer and more a platform for displaying new products and showing off new technology. While there is still a degree of regular product shown for regular consumers, the patronage of motorshows seems heavily weighted towards motoring enthusiasts rather than consisting of a cross-section of the car buying public.

Adding further question to the relevance of motor shows is the vast quantity of information available on the internet, and our increased willingness to rely on it. As our lives simultaneously get busier, more and more people are willing to make purchase choices without seeing their purchase beforehand. Despite their complexity, cars could be next, especially for people who buy primarily on looks or practicality. How relevant is a motor show to the Internet generation?

The organisers of this year's AIMS promise that it will be bigger than ever, and will make good use of the vast space available in the combined exhibition and convention space in Melbourne. But will it impress? We will have to wait until it opens on July 1st to know the answer.

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