Why motor shows matter

An event not just for the hardcore car nut
by Dinzo Tabamo | Aug 26, 2012

It’s safe to say the recently concluded 4th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) was the best so far. Actually, it can even be considered the best local motor show ever mounted in our country. It was everything a major car show should be, but this time the bar was raised.

The cars were more exciting, the booths were grander, the models were more beautiful, and the presentations of the carmakers were on another level altogether. One glance at the elaborate booths of the manufacturers, not to mention the sleep-deprived faces of our friends in the marketing teams who put the booths together, showed that a lot of time, effort and money was invested by all who joined—the result being the runaway success of the PIMS.

So what’s the point of it all? Why is this biennial event so important to anyone connected to the motoring industry? I pondered on this and came up with five reasons:

1. It gives the motoring industry a boost – Inevitably, there’s a sales component to the PIMS. Cars that are new, forthcoming or refreshed are displayed to whet the appetites of those who flock to the booths. It’s like a showroom but with a festive atmosphere, possible giveaways, sales incentives (freebies, discounts, special financing schemes) and friendly female models. If you’re in the market for a new car, PIMS is a one-stop shop. If you’re not in the market, you might still be convinced to buy once you smell and feel the interior of the Toyota 86. (If I only had P1.5 million…)

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2. It’s a showcase of a carmaker’s best stuff – What’s great about a motor show like PIMS is you get to see more than what’s available in showrooms. Honda Cars Philippines, for example, displayed its hybrid cars: the Insight and the CR-Z. It doesn’t plan on selling these models yet; it\'s waiting for the law that would help hybrid cars be passed in Congress first. But it’s amazing to see the Honda CR-Z in the metal—and in Mugen kit no less!

We hope our legislators do something useful and pass that law. We can’t wait to try out the Honda sports hybrid’s six-speed tranny. Lexus also showed off its one and only LFA supercar. The public got a chance to see the very limited and don’t-bother-asking-the-price masterpiece in the carbon fiber. Kia made eyebrows raise when its magnificent Quoris was unveiled. But it’s not all about halo models, Mitsubishi drew a steady crowd of old-school enthusiasts with a Galant rally car. You can almost smell the racing history once you open the door.

3. Car companies get to reinforce their brand – Gary V and Martin Nievera, flash mobs, beatboxing, marching bands, Pupil, pole dancers. These were some of the novel ways carmakers introduced their cars. Entertaining as they may be, some may wonder what it has to with convincing you to buy an MPV or try out a compact sedan. The point of all these marketing tactics is to remind people that behind every car is a brand, and the brand is more important than the car itself. Anyone who thinks different doesn’t know how to choose good cars. Although someone forgot to tell Martin Nievera he’s too old and portly to still be doing what he was badly doing two decades ago, the sweaty singer’s performance with Gary V was both a thank you to Toyota’s customers, a reassurance that it\'s still number one, and that it can still stage a show that everyone will talk about.

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4. It’s a reminder that the industry is alive and kicking – When the booths are smaller, when the launch events are less grandiose, when the cars are not as new, when the female models look tired; these are warning signs that the motoring industry is slowing down—the kind of slowdown that spells bad news for the economy. But a bigger, flashier, louder motor show like this year’s PIMS proves that the industry is moving in, ehem, top gear.

5. It’s a place where all car lovers converge – On the first day, as I was walking past the big PIMS sign on the World Trade Center driveway, I saw a guy painstakingly position his point-and-shoot camera on a rock, scamper in front of his digicam, and flash a smile for the snapshot. It was a very amusing scene. It showed the passion people have for this kind of activity.

A motor show is a place where hardcore car nuts, curious onlookers and those who just want to see what’s new with automobiles can gather and bask in the spirit of mobility. It’s where dads bond with their sons (or daughters), where teenagers pose with the sports cars they hang pictures of on their walls, and where the general public can see the newest cars presented in the most creative ways possible. A motor show is a place that—despite all the negativity, bad news and idiotic senators that happen outside the World Trade Center’s walls—anyone who appreciates and loves cars can call home.  

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