The 2010 British British International Motor Show has been axed, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said on Thursday.

“SMMT, with the support of the UK motor industry, remains committed to showcasing the achievements and products of the automotive sector. However, the economic downturn and the unprecedented challenges facing the industry both in the UK and around the world, have made it impossible for exhibitors to commit to a 2010 event,” the trade group said in a statement.

“The [British show] is the UK’s largest consumer exhibition, hugely popular with the public, and has been attracting increasing numbers of visitors over recent years, making the decision to cancel the 2010 show an extremely difficult one.

However, the global credit crunch has placed the automotive sector under unique pressure and has created a level of uncertainty that deters manufacturers from committing to large-scale, international events,” said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.

“The UK has a strong, diverse and highly competitive motor manufacturing industry, home to globally successful companies and iconic products admired around the world. Both SMMT and the industry are committed to displaying the achievements of the sector but in a way that better reflects the changing dynamics of the industry,” added Everitt.

just-auto deputy editor Graeme Roberts notes: An annual, international standard British motor show was held every October for years up until the 1970s at the famous Earls Court exhibition centre, in London, and was later shifted to the huge NEC facility near Birmingham, and eventually held bi-anually, like the Frankfurt and Tokyo shows.

As the British volume car industry declined, the show became less important internationally, attracting fewer foreign journalists and visitors. In recent years, however, the event has been revived at the new Excel exhibition centre in revitalised Docklands, east of the the city of London.

While some key automakers have stayed away, and both media and public have criticised transport facilities (access is easiest by a somewhat erratic elevated train service from the city centre), the show’s compact layout and a wide range of facilities aimed at the general public (eg spectacular shows on an adjacent lake and hands-on driving opportunities) have steadily boosted its popularity.

Foreign journalists we interviewed at last year’s event said the London show always had at least one significant ‘international’ launch to justify their attendance (GM Europe’s Opel/Vauxhall Insignia was 2008’s major unveiling) while access and facilities were, if not perfect, more than acceptable.

Show organisers attracted some criticism from the media last year for selling premium-priced tickets giving a small number of the public access to the show on press day (though this in the end did not appear to cause any problems).