Automechanika – the German based exhibitor best known for its automotive aftermarket fairs – has added Birmingham, UK, to its international exhibition list for the first time this week. The trade fair at the National Exibition Centre (NEC) also includes a substantial element of supply chain participants as well as aftermarket exhibitors, something of a departure for heavily aftermarket focused Automechanika events.

SMMT chief Mike Hawes told just-auto that the SMMT wanted the supply chain element included to reflect its importance in the UK auto industry's recent growth surge.  

The automotive supply chain employs around 78,000 people in the UK. "There has been a lot of job creation, a lot of growth, plenty of investment in the UK automotive sector and that is now flowing through supply chains," Hawes says. "We wanted to put on an event to put the supply chain and also the UK aftermarket on the map."

Automechanika has expanded out of its Frankfurt base over the past decade with aftermarket based exhibition fairs and events in places such as Shanghai, Delhi, Dubai, Istanbul and Buenos Aires.

Hawes says that the UK was firmly on Automechanika's radar as a new exhibition opportunity and the discussions with the SMMT led to the inclusion of the supply chain element.    

"We were talking to Automechanika a few years ago and they said they has spoken to their international exhibitors and said 'where do you want to go next?'

"The top two were Brazil and the UK. Brazil has been put on the back burner because of its political and economic crisis, but the UK was a very popular destination for them because of what they saw as the resurgence of the UK automotive sector. So we came to an agreement that they would put on a show in the UK and we would do all we can to support it.

"Critically, and unusually for Automechanika, we wanted the exhibition to embrace both the supply chain and aftermarket. We wanted it to reflect the strengths of the UK and that would be slightly different to some of the other trade shows."

Hawes says the show is a sell-out. "They originally envisaged two show halls and quickly went to three. There are over 550 companies exhibiting and the level of interest, likely footfall, is well in excess of what was originally envisaged. It is about bringing personnel from the vehicle manufacturers, who will be in attendance, together with the supply chain, together with the aftermarket – to promote the growing capabilities of the UK auto industry in the broadest sense."

The average car in the UK has around 41% local content, up from 36% last year ago. Germany is estimated at around 64-65%. Hawes maintains that it is important to grow the UK's local content. "We want to grow the UK's local content because it is important that not only are the cars built here, but that much of the componentry comes from here, because with that comes the investment and jobs and innovation," he says.