News, Culture & Society

The road show must go on! Motoring events are finally back

The road show must go on! Motoring events are finally back – and there’s a packed summer of flashy cars, live music and family fun on offer

 

 

 

This year’s British Motor Show opens next week, promising an extravaganza of motoring delights from stunt driving to showcasing the latest family runarounds and performance cars.

The event is taking place from Thursday (August 18) to Sunday at Farnborough International in Hampshire, just ahead of the new ’72 number plates next month.

Things have moved on from when a motor show was a static display of cars to be gazed at admiringly by visitors.

On offer: Motor shows provide family fun an extravaganza of motoring delights from stunt driving to showcasing the latest family runarounds and performance cars

And they’ve moved even further from the Swinging Sixties and permissive 1970s of my childhood, when a skimpily clad woman posing on the bonnet was the accepted norm for launching a vehicle.

What’s on offer

Today’s visitors still want to see cars, but they also want action, entertainment and a wholly memorable experience.

They want to see and hear the latest and hottest cars on the move. They increasingly want something that will appeal to the whole family. And plenty of diversions for people who may not be interested in cars, or don’t realise that they are until they attend. So organisers are having to adapt.

The British Motor Show is a case in point, featuring: 

  • More than 25 new car brands and 250 exhibitors, with a handful of new UK model and technology reveals expected. More than 20 car models will be available to test drive and even to buy at the show, which attracted more than 47,000 people last year.
  • Classic cars and supercars, breath-taking passenger rides, interactive features, a Premier GT Supercar Paddock, outdoor viewing and picnic areas, a live arena and stages, an extended Family Zone, Tech Zone, racing simulator and parachute displays, motorsport, drifting and even Formula 1 cars.
  • Stunt driver Paul Swift, who will try to break the parallel park world record in an electric car, before attempting to beat the record for most ‘doughnuts’ — rapid rubber-burning spins — around a moving motorbike.
  • Experts from the prestigious Institute of the Motor Industry and Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF) on hand at the IMI Tech Theatre and the AA’s Car Clinic to help answer questions and debunk myths about electric vehicles.
  • Advanced tickets cost from £18.50 each, or £37 for a family of four.

Organiser Andy Entwistle said it was intentional that the British Motor Show was taking place towards the end of the summer holidays — to attract families — and at a location within two hours of about 60 per cent of the population. He noted: ‘This year’s British Motor Show builds on our mantra to reinvent the concept of motor shows.’

In gear: Organisers say it was intentional that the British Motor Show was taking place towards the end of the summer holidays — to attract families

In gear: Organisers say it was intentional that the British Motor Show was taking place towards the end of the summer holidays — to attract families

Pull in: This year’s British Motor Show is taking place from Thursday (August 18) to Sunday at Farnborough International in Hampshire

Pull in: This year’s British Motor Show is taking place from Thursday (August 18) to Sunday at Farnborough International in Hampshire

Tricks: Stunt driver Paul Swift will try to break the parallel park world record in an electric car, before attempting to beat the record for most ‘doughnuts’

Tricks: Stunt driver Paul Swift will try to break the parallel park world record in an electric car, before attempting to beat the record for most ‘doughnuts’

Around the world

 Since the mid-1990s I have attended scores of shows as the automotive industry’s travelling circus pitched its tents in places such as Geneva, Paris and Frankfurt, Detroit, New York and Los Angeles, as well as Tokyo, Beijing and Shanghai, and here from London to Birmingham.

The shows were so important that major car unveilings and launches were timed to coincide with the covers coming off at the stand. Now they increasingly happen online. But motor shows are struggling. Frankfurt was axed, and moved to Munich.

Once the foremost show, Geneva has been absent for three years —because of Covid — though organisers are planning to return in 2023. But car companies asked to pay millions of pounds for a stand are thinking the cash could be better spent.

Paris is dipping a toe back in the water next month. LA has eclipsed Detroit.

The Shanghai and Beijing shows demonstrate China’s growing importance.

The shift from traditional static shows to experience-grabbing events began slowly, but is now almost the norm.

  • The annual BMW PGA golf championships at Wentworth Club, Virginia Water, in Surrey, next month is a great example. BMW builds a village with a giant screen, shops and hospitality areas — and with all its latest cars and motorbikes on display. But they own the space exclusively — with no Audis or Mercedes-Benzes to worry about.
  • The Goodwood Festival of Speed — which next year celebrates its 30th anniversary and has to many become the real 21st century UK motor show — combines thrilling automotive antics on the hill past Goodwood House, with the chance to get up close to cars you can drive and buy.

There is huge interest for electric cars with car-makers such as Alfa Romeo, Ford. Lotus and Polestar all having individual stands.

Getting international car bosses to any UK motor shows was always near impossible. Try keeping them away from Goodwood.

The sister Goodwood Revival, a celebration of cars from the 1940s to early 1960s, is taking place next month, with all visitors in period dress.

5 more big motoring events 

CarFest South: Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire, August 26–28 (carfest.org). Cars, stars, food and live performances raising more than £3 million for UK children’s charities.

CarFest South: Laverstoke Park Farm in Hampshire, August 26–28 (carfest.org). Cars, stars, food and live performances raising more than £3 million for UK children’s charities.

Salon Privé: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. August 31-September 4 (Classic & Supercar) (salonprive concours.com). New and old classics to meet every taste. And that’s just in the car park.

Salon Privé: Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire. August 31-September 4 (Classic & Supercar) (salonprive concours.com). New and old classics to meet every taste. And that’s just in the car park.

BMW PGA: Wentworth, Virginia Water, Surrey, September 6-11. A BMW mini motor show entertains spectators amid an international golf championship. (tickets.europeantour.com)

MotoFest Coventry September 10-11. Britain’s Midlands Motown celebrates the motor car and much else in 2021-2 City of Culture. (coventrymotofest.com)

MotoFest Coventry September 10-11. Britain’s Midlands Motown celebrates the motor car and much else in 2021-2 City of Culture. (coventrymotofest.com)

Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival: Next summer’s Festival of Speed marks the 30th anniversary of Britain’s motorshow garden party. But next month’s Revival (September 16-18) is looming too. (goodwood.com)

 

Back to the start

There are many more grand, modern events (see sidebar) this summer and autumn but motoring shows have a history that’s more than 100 years old.

  • Tuesday, October 15, 1895 marked the UK’s first organised public demonstration of automobiles at the Horseless Carriage Exhibition in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, attracting about 5,000 people.
  • The following month the Stanley Cycle Show was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall in London’s Islington where a Panhard Levassor shown in Kent reappeared.
  • But 1896 saw the first significant motor show when the Grand International Exhibition of Motors ran from May until August at the Imperial Institute in London’s South Kensington, featuring both petrol and electric vehicles.
  • The newly formed Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders held its first British motor show at Crystal Palace in 1903, moving to Olympia in 1905 when for the first and last time two shows were held — in February and October. It remained there for 32 years before moving to Earls Court from 1937 until 1976.

From 1978 until 2004, the show was held every second year at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, before returning to London.

And here’s to hoping that this tradition continues long into the future.

  • More information at: thebritishmotorshow.live

Shock in store for Electric car drivers 

Motorists who bought fully electric and plug-in hybrid cars to save on fuel bills are now being urged to switch to better tariffs and new smart meters for home-charging as energy costs go through the roof.

Experts warn that bills for the average UK household are on course to hit £4,266 a year in January after a rise to more than £3,500 in October.

Home charger: The cost of charging up electric cars is set to rise

Home charger: The cost of charging up electric cars is set to rise

Motoring magazine Auto Express said: ‘Energy regulator Ofgem is set to announce the new energy price cap at the end of August with the change taking effect in October. 

This could mean bad news for electric vehicle (EV) drivers who charge their cars at home.’

Currently, drivers charging an electric vehicle on an off-peak tariff pay the equivalent of 1.9 pence a mile with Octopus Intelligent at 7.5p/per kilowatt hour (kWh). 

That means a typical UK driver’s annual mileage of 6,800 miles in an average EV could cost £129.20.

By comparison, at the current standard variable tariff of 28p/kWh, that same annual mileage would cost a driver £476.

David Watson of Ohme, which sells Home Pro EV smart chargers, said: ‘If, as predicted, that standard electricity tariff rises to 60p/kWh, those same 6,800 miles would cost an EV driver £1,020 — eight times more than on an off-peak tariff.’

He said that EV motorists should speak to their electricity supplier and see if they offer an off-peak tariff to help offset the rises — and if not, consider switching suppliers to one that does.

 

 

 

 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk