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Future of Auto Salon hangs in the balance

© Febiac

The Auto Salon, Belgium’s largest commercial fair and one that boosts car sales for months after, is in danger, auto-industry federation Febiac has warned.

Last year the Salon could not take place, like so many other events because of the pandemic.

This year, car manufacturers are still weighing up the options, even though the normal timetable would have them committed by the spring and making preparations over the summer.

It is now September, and still doubtful whether the event can take place at all.

In June, Volvo said it would not be taking part. Now, according to reporting by De Tijd, the major distributor D’Ieteren, which handles Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Seat and Porsche, has also withdrawn.

Today, the Stellantis group (Peugeot, Fiat, Opel, Citroën, Alfa Romeo) is due to show its cards.

If both were to withdraw, that would be the end of this year’s Salon, and might well be a death blow to the event altogether.

The victims would be smaller brands, who rely on the passing trade to draw attention to themselves. Visitors may not come to Heysel specifically for names like Mazda and Kia, but while they are there to look at a Volvo or a Fiat, the smaller names might catch the eye.

But without the presence of Audi, Mercedes-Benz or BMW, who would go to an Auto Salon?

The existence of the Salon affects the motor trade nationwide, with traders offering Salon conditions even if you stay away from Brussels and buy your car in Erps-Kwerps. Without the Salon, that sort of marketing has no point.

However off-Salon sales have benefited in recent years from Salon conditions, the paper reports. Manufacturers have meanwhile adapted their offer, for example allowing a potential buyer to compile a list of requirements online, which can then be put together to come up with an ideal answer and an ideal budget.

Perhaps the Auto Salon, like so many other traditional businesses, has reached its natural end. The answer for this year’s Salon will be known on Friday.