The needs of the consumer have been at the heart of the planning for the London Motor Show according to the chief executive of the organising body. The show is currently running at London's ExCeL exhibition centre.

In an interview with just-auto, SMMT (the UK auto industry trade body responsible for the London Show) chief executive Chris Macgowan said that this year's show in London is differentiated from other international motor shows in two ways: "Firstly, London as a city has huge pulling power. It is still one of the top attractions globally, so anything that happens in London has a head start. That's one area.

"And the second area that differentiates the London Show from others is that the consumer is at the heart of all our thinking. What we are trying to do is give the visitor a rattling good day out."

Macgowan also said that planning for the show has gone 'better than we could have dreamt' and that advance ticket sales and product launches were ahead of plans.

However, he noted that there was no room for complacency and that getting the general public to any public attraction in the UK requires great skill.

The organisers have also chosen a July slot so that the event is well away from Geneva or the autumnal Paris slot in terms of other major western European shows. Previously, British Motor Shows in Birmingham were staged in the autumn and that was widely seen as too close to the Paris Show (also held every two years and on even number years, alternating with Frankfurt, held on intervening odd number years).

Macgowan also maintained that the UK's broad vehicle manufacturing base has helped to secure manufacturer interest in exhibiting new models at the London Show.

"We may not have an indigenous volume carmaking industry here, but we have lots of brands being built here - more brands than in any other EU member state. If you couple that diverse manufacturing aspect with the size of the UK new car market, the second largest in Europe, the net result is that those men and women with responsibility for a brand in Britain say, 'Hang on, we'd like to have that model previewed or launched in London, as this will help our marketing plans'," he said.

In terms of visitor numbers, Macgowan said he was looking for '400,000 properly audited visitors' to the show.

"We are confident that we will get 400,000 audited visitors and if we do, we will be very happy with that," Macgowan said.

He also said that the show has been devised to include a range of attractions designed to offer maximum appeal to a broad range of visitors.

"The show is, in a sense, a collection of parts that together add up to a brilliant show. For instance: to what extent do you think that the rock concerts in the evening are important? Well, you may think that that is a trivial sideshow.

"On the contrary, Londoners love doing things in the evening and concerts in the evening are exactly what they want and it gives them free entry to the show after 4:00pm. Brilliant marketing initiative and it will work well," he said.

The British Motor Show returned to London this year for the first time in thirty years after a long run at Birmingham's NEC exhibition grounds. But it was decided to move the show from there when exhibiting manufacturers voiced dissatisfaction with that venue on cost grounds.

Dave Leggett

London Motor Show website