By Robin Roberts

Cost conscious Kia Cars (UK) Limited is the latest candidate to consider cancelling its stand at the London Motor Show in 2001 after leading car makers said last week they would not be attending.

The company, which has consistently championed low prices and value for money, is concerned at the cost of exhibiting in Earls Court, particularly when Volkswagen group companies including SEAT and Skoda, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have said they will not be there but prefer to concentrate on the British Motor Show at the NEC every two years.

Announcing Kia's model plans for 2001 which will see three new cars introduced on the back of 1,000 sales a month this year after a 140 percent rise over 1999, managing director Mark Quinn said at the weekend that he could think of better ways to spend over £300,000 at Earls Court for 10 days.

" I am thinking of a series of roadshows around the country and we could have a number of those for the money we would spend at the London Motor Show," he said." We will have to talk to the factory about the situation but I cannot see us being there when so many have said they will not be attending."

London Motor Show director Mark Saunders last week described the pull-outs as "a significant withdrawal". "But it has happened in the past," he said. With 11 months before Earls Court opens its doors, around 200 exhibitors have signed up and only 25% of space remains, added Mr Saunders. He said that the cost of exhibiting was the reason given by the manufacturers. "How much money exhibitors chose to spend on their exhibits is a matter purely for them."

Robin Roberts is motoring editor of the Western Mail