Decision time for European tire shows!

John Stone
Posted on December 17, 2012
John Stone

John Stone

I am writing this article still fresh from my recent trip to Las Vegas for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show. Although having travelled the world extensively over the years, this was my first visit to Vegas and indeed the first time I had managed to engineer a visit to the SEMA Show.

I must admit it took me a while to “get my head” around the whole vision and atmosphere of Vegas which is totally unique and like no other city I have ever visited. As for the SEMA Show, well once again the event was everything I expected it to be... and more! To be honest, wandering around the Global Tire Expo hall set my mind thinking about the totally different way that North America approaches the concept of tire shows to Europe and in particular the UK.

To say that SEMA was absolutely massive in both size and product content is a complete understatement but there is no doubt, this is THE event concerning tires and wheels in America. During the show I began to realize that the reason for SEMA’s undoubted success is that the show incorporates all aspects of the automotive industry with tires playing an important role. With the high performance vehicle and racing element heavily supported by “live” driving demonstrations, the entire show oozes both atmosphere and excitement and visitors can combine the entertainment of seeing classic, quirky cars with a complete overview of the U.S. tire and wheel scene, all within one show.

The UK's Brityrex Show 2012 (top) and the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in 2012.
The UK's Brityrex Show 2012 (top) and the SEMA Show in Las Vegas in 2012.

In my opinion it is this difference in concept that separates North America from Europe where tire shows seem to be kept virtually apart from vehicle shows. There is no question that the bi-annual Reifen Show in Essen, Germany, is by far the largest and most successful tire show in Europe, but even at this event it concentrates mainly on tires, wheels and all appropriate accessories within the industry. Unfortunately it does not go that extra mile and combine the automotive market in terms of performance cars, etc.

Other regular annual and bi-annual shows in Europe include Autopromotec in Bologna, Italy, which is basically dominated by the Italians and mainly concentrates on the home market of tire and wheel balancing and alignment products. Automechanika in Hanover, Germany, is another event that is extensive but mainly covers the heavier tire markets including agricultural and OTR plus wheel assembly equipment.

However, it is in the UK where, in my opinion, the concept of presenting tire shows is completely disjointed. Every other year the Brityrex show in Manchester, UK, is held with what is considered to be only moderate success. In effect it is just a tire show and as such attendances have been at best adequate and at worst poor for a number of years. It is a common perception that one of the reasons for this is high attendance by UK tire personnel to the Reifen Show who feel the Essen event is much more appropriate as an industry show.

However, I believe if Brityrex was to stop trying to “go it alone” as an event and look toward what is happening at SEMA, it would then attract more visitors. The UK also has the Commercial Vehicle Show on an annual basis which is generally well supported, so maybe it would make sense for the organizers of both these shows to work together, pool their resources and stage a larger more “inter-active” event. Perhaps they could even persuade one of the thriving high performance car shows that take place every year to join in. Then they would be approaching the type of show that SEMA puts on effortlessly on an annual basis.

In theory it makes a great deal of sense, but I suspect the business competitiveness and politics of merging three show organizations together just will ensure it does not happen. ■

Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 20 years. In 2004 he launched his own company, Sapphire Media Services, as a business media consultant with clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.

Related Topics: 2012 SEMA Show, Brityrex show

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