In 2007 the AutoRAI, Holland's most important new car show, was moved a few months later in the year than traditionally. This way the event followed after the Geneva Motor Show, an event in which many manufacturers choose to introduce new models. The reason of this was of course to get these new models straight from Geneva and show them in Amsterdam. It involved a bit of swallowed pride because the organizers tend to regard the old established AutoRAI as equally important to shows like the one in Geneva but finally they woke up to the fact that manufacturers had decided otherwise years ago.
With the change of dates the organizers hoped to have a more up to date display and to attract more visitors. This seemed realistic but remarkably it worked out different. Indeed the show was more topical than ever with lots of freshly introduced models, yet the visitor count was down. This even when the show was stretched out over more days and included the Easter holidays. Obviously this baffled organizers, exhibitors and visitors alike. What could have gone wrong?
It certainly wasn't the show itself because it was one of the best in years in my opinion. The quality of the stands and displays was generally on a high level; colorful, varied and pleasing. There was plenty to see and to enjoy for the car enthusiast, placed in a roomy lay-out so it was not easily crowded. Quite a change from previous years and it made car photography much more enjoyable.
There were some clear downsides as well. First off, the entrance and parking prices were raised to a rather steep level. Secondly, some manufacturers/importers decided not to attend because of the costs involved. Most important of those was probably Ferrari. Lastly the timing around Easter may have been a problem for some, since this period is often used for a family holiday. A more speculative reason for the disappointing number of visitors is the format of the show: essentially it's like if the stock of various dealers has been moved to the large halls of the RAI-complex, but the cars on display can't actually be bought on the spot so those interested still have to go to a dealership. The people that go to a show like this to compare models and prices may have thought the cost and effort involved too much and decided to go directly to the dealerships instead.
All this meant that mostly true car enthusiasts turned up and this, however disappointing for the financial results of the organization, meant an enjoyable, relaxed atmosphere with good access to most of the displayed cars. Of course there were some stands which were disappointing, like the extremely dark display provided by Honda (quite an effort in a sun soaked hall) or the exhibition of a selection of classic cars which were obstructed by ugly fences (and plants) close to the cars. But generally the exhibitors had done an excellent job with top prize going to Audi with a very nice display of all the performance versions in their model lines, complete with the new S5, R8 sportscar and R10 Le Mans winning car.
The female models flanking the cars, a feature which had made a come-back in the 2005 edition, were back again as you can see above. Remarkably this was now accepted without too much attention, unlike before. Apparently people have grown accustomed to this in the last couple of years.
There was also a nice collection of show- and concept cars. Unfortunately a number of these weren't very recent and perhaps there could have been a few more to enhance the show. Still there was enough to show you a new chapter of concept cars pictured at the AutoRAI show.