British motor show axed for good? | CAR Magazine

British motor show axed for good?

Published: 14 October 2010 Updated: 26 January 2015

The British motor show will not go ahead in 2012, the organisers confirmed today. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders dashed hopes that the UK expo could return after the recession put stop to 2010’s event – effectively ending over a century of UK motor shows.

‘The British International Motor Show has been a tremendously successful showcase for the UK motor industry,’ said SMMT chief exec Paul Everitt. ‘But in recent years the show has played a less important role in influencing new car buyers and vehicle manufacturers are focussing their limited resources on events and activities that have a more direct impact on brand awareness and consumer decisions.’

The 2010 London motor show was cancelled in March 2009, as the recession bit deep into car makers’ budgets.

British motor show: a potted history

The first British International Motor Show was held at Crystal Palace in 1903 before moving to Olympia in 1905 and Earls Court in 1937 where it ran until 1976.

With the exception of 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918 and 1939-1947 when distractions like world wars took over, there was a UK show every year until 1976 when it went bi-annual and moved to Birmingham’s NEC in 1978.

In 2006 the show organisers switched back to London in the Excel arena in Docklands. It drew a 472,300-strong crowd and attracted 60 car makers. But the British motor show remained a bit-part exhibition on the global stage and always cowered in the shadow of the major European shows, now dominated by Geneva, Frankfurt and Paris.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words