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'Jims poor bet': Auto moguls respond

2013-10-25 11:51

‘A POOR INVESTMENT’: Is Barcroft voicing what many automakers are thinking? Toyota certainly believes the Johannesburg motor show is of value. Image: WHEELS24/SERGIO DAVIDS

Wheels24 reported that Chrysler SA CEO Trent Barcroft called the 2013 Johannesburg Motor Show "a poor investment". We asked SA automakers to respond and received responses from automotive heavyweights - Naamsa president Johan van Zyl and Toyota SA's Calvyn Hamman.

Wheels24 reported on Chrysler SA CEO Trent Barcroft calling the 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show "a poor investment".  Wheels24 attended the launch of the Fiat 500L in October 2013 in Cape Town.

Barcroft quashed issues of Fiats being unreliable as "a perception problem in SA".


In response to Wheels24 reader Edward Strydom's comment on our "Fiat SA launches big daddy 500L" article, Barcroft said: "Edward, Trent Barcroft, CEO of Fiat SA here. Interesting comments but you really fail to understand the auto business. Jims is a poor investment, it does not sell cars but rather absorbs millions of Rands in marketing budget that is better spent on media and in promoting visiting a showroom, where one may test drive our products."

We asked automakers to respond and received responses from automotive heavyweights:

President of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA Johan van Zyl said: "Members of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers are invited to participate in the continent’s only international motor show but it remains their decision.

"As Naamsa we welcome the opportunity to show our newest cars, trucks and buses to the 250 000 visitors to the show and to local and international media."


Toyota SA's senior vice-president of sales and marketing, Calvyn Hamman, added: "We (Toyota, Lexus and Hino) view the show as a very good platform to build excitement and to collect the details of interested potential customers. It is also a unique opportunity to show our new vehicles to the highest number of media at one event."

As more automakers respond we'll update the article. Below are some readers responses to Barcroft's comment:

Neo Anderson said: "Dear Trent, I do believe that you are missing the point. A motor show is a showcase of what is available now and possibly in the future.

"How can I test drive a Fiat if I don't now about it? The publicity from a motor show is far greater than any marketing campaign you can envisage. If an automaker does not make the effort to appear at a show, we assume there is nothing worthwhile available.

"If it's such a bad investment, why are there shows in all the major cities around the world annually? The bad publicity for not being present at a show far outweighs the money spent on a so called poor investment."

Harry Pieroni said: "Isn't it sad that preconceptions about cars in SA are mostly unfounded? Italian cars are as good as any other brand today, some of their high-tech engines might just not be compatible with our crap fuels!

"Check out TopGear's rating of the Panda4x4, Alfa 4C etc. our press is totally biased toward German and now Korean brands. What a crock of nonsense. I also think the iPhone/iPad generation in South africa is the demographic that is being targeted not the older generation, which unfortunately is stuck with wrong perceptions!"


Norbert Skosana said: "Here is what Fiat, Volvo, Chrysler and Jeep missed when they decided not to turn up for Jims: If you're not there, you're invisible. About 250 000 people walking past your cars sounds like great marketing to me.

"What do the brands who didn't come have in common? They are struggling to sell cars and probably just don't have the budget in the first place."

Umesh Vaga said: "I dissagree with the Chrysler CEO's claims that people attend Jims to buy cars. I've seen a concept car about three years ago at Jims and when that concept car came into production I purchased the car.

So Barcroft, your assumptions on the visitors attending Jims is vastly misleading. A friend of mine just order the new Audi S3 after seeing it on display at Jims.

Slowboat said: "Norbert, 250 000 people looking at your cars is fine, but its converting all those 'tyre kickers' into actual sales that is what Barcroft is getting at by saying it's a bad investment.

"People don't go to a car show to buy a car, they go to see all the flash and most likely the the high-end stuff that they probably wouldn't normally get close to at a dealer. You cannot test drive a car at Jims (Well maybe some of the brands have off-road tests and the 'drift taxis'...).

"Chrysler and Fiat combined are one of the top importers of cars in SA in terms of sales volumes, its only one or two of the other importers and the OEMs that outsell these brands as they also export cars far and wide and are able to take advantage of the credits available to them thereby subsidizing their local pricing, the Chrysler and Fiat brands do not have this luxury.

"Furthermore, many of the large manufacturers that were at Jims get their stands flown in by their mother companies thereby saving a lot of local marketing money. If you think that spending in excess of ten million Rand on a motor show is going to get you exponential sales as a result, then you have to sell a lot of cars..."

Do you agree with Barcroft's sentiments? Do any more automakers wish to respond? Email us and we'll publish your thoughts on Wheels24.

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