Bratislava Autosalon, April 13-18: "Fun but ineffective"

Over 100,000 people are expected to visit Autosalon, an automotive exhibition that kicks off on April 13 and runs for five days at the Incheba exhibition centre in Bratislava. Fully 153 exhibitors from 31 different car companies will be displaying their new models at the show, and while they do not expect to sell many cars, they do expect to have a good time.
Mercedes-Benz Bratislava and Toyota Tsusho Slovakia are two of the largest exhibitors at this year's Autosalon - Mercedes has secured 950 square metres of space while Toyota has booked over 500 square metres. Both firms said that Incheba's asking price, starting at 800 Slovak crowns per square metre, had caused them to weigh the virtues of participating in Autosalon very carefully.
"We paid close to 800,000 crowns ($20,000) for the exhibition space we rented this year," said Mercedes-Benz Bratislava Director Július Šabo. "It's very expensive, especially when you consider that few, if any, actual car sales result from such exhibitions."


Autosalon will also be presenting Volkswagen's newest product, the redesigned 'Beetle' that made such an impression in the 1960's.
photo: Courtesy Volkswagen

Over 100,000 people are expected to visit Autosalon, an automotive exhibition that kicks off on April 13 and runs for five days at the Incheba exhibition centre in Bratislava. Fully 153 exhibitors from 31 different car companies will be displaying their new models at the show, and while they do not expect to sell many cars, they do expect to have a good time.

Mercedes-Benz Bratislava and Toyota Tsusho Slovakia are two of the largest exhibitors at this year's Autosalon - Mercedes has secured 950 square metres of space while Toyota has booked over 500 square metres. Both firms said that Incheba's asking price, starting at 800 Slovak crowns per square metre, had caused them to weigh the virtues of participating in Autosalon very carefully.

"We paid close to 800,000 crowns ($20,000) for the exhibition space we rented this year," said Mercedes-Benz Bratislava Director Július Šabo. "It's very expensive, especially when you consider that few, if any, actual car sales result from such exhibitions."

Toyota's Marcel Šulek agreed that neither of Slovakia's two annual auto exhibitions produce much in the way of car sales, and echoed Sabo's complaint that the exhibitions are too expensive. "We do not participate in the exhibitions to gain sales," Šulek said. "Our Toyota dealerships are better equipped than Incheba's exhibition halls for that purpose. And, yes, it is quite expensive - much more expensive than Nitra's Autosalon [Nitra will host Slovakia's second car exhibition from September 9 to 14]."

Incheba's Autosalon Director Slavo Machala contested Šulek's claim that Incheba is too expensive, saying that his firm's exhibitions are "60% less [expensive] than Nitra's."

On the other hand, Machala agreed with both Šabo and Šulek's belief that car exhibitions are not an effective way to sell cars. He added, however, that Autosalon was not designed to increase car sales - instead, it is a fun event that allows different companies to show off their cars and make contacts with prospective clients.


Mercedes Benz will be exhibiting its supercar - the CLK-GTR race car - at Bratislava's Autosalon. The car is not for sale.
photo: Courtesy Mercedes Benz

"Autosalon is fun and interesting," Machala said. "The companies get to introduce new models, and it's the best opportunity for visitors to compare different companies and different cars all under the same roof. It is not even designed for sales."

Machala added that interest in Incheba's Autosalon is high. Over 100,000 visitors are expected at the exhibition which, he said, would not be short on attractions. Over 30,000 square metres have been rented out this year by almost all major international car companies, including Jaguar, Volkswagen, Audi, Škoda and Rolls Royce.

Notwithstanding their complaints, Šabo and Šulek agreed that the exhibitions are an excellent opportunity to meet "car fans," and added that the fact of their participation in Autosalon shows how enjoyable, if not profitable, Autosalon has become.

"We participate more to buld up our image and create connections than to sell cars," Šulek said.

Šabo said that he is looking forward to Autosalon, where Mercedes-Benz will display their CLK-GTR 'super sports car', which races in the CART World Series. The car is not for sale, said Šabo, but it symbolises the relaxed atmosphere of the car exhibitions.

"It's a stress-free atmosphere," said Šabo. "It's fun to talk to people who come to Auto shows because they are car fans. The bottom line is that Autosalon is fun."

Additional reporting by Martina Pisárová

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