The British International Motor Show has been cancelled because of the crisis in the car industry, organisers have announced.
The biennial event, which was due to be staged in London next summer, has been running since 1903 and has taken place ever since, apart from during the two world wars.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the trade body which organises the two-week show in July, said it had consulted with its members before making the decision. It said it would be inappropriate to expect struggling carmakers to commit themselves to taking part. Some companies employ more than 200 people during the event, incurring considerable hotel bills and other expenses.
The total cost of participating in international motor shows can often run into tens of millions of pounds. Planning for them typically starts a year before the event. This is why the Detroit and Geneva motor shows recently took place despite the dire state of the industry, as most companies had already committed to taking part.
But other motor shows scheduled to take place over the next 18 months could be scrapped. A spokesman for Oica, the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, which helps organise the calendar of events for the industry, admitted that a number of smaller shows might not take place next year.
But he said the "Big Five" – the showcases in Geneva, Paris, Toykyo, Frankfurt and Detroit would go ahead
Paul Everitt, chief executive of the SMMT, said: "It's obvious that companies' budgets are under pressure and it would be tough for them to make a commitment. We are working in an industry where people have been made redundant and are facing an uncertain future.
"It would be inappropriate to then say 'We are going to be holding a multimillion-pound event next year' when we don't know what the economic circumstances will look like."
In reality, the British Motor Show has been struggling for a number of years. The show was once a major draw for the public, but with no homegrown manufacturers to support it, and international car companies choosing to debut major launches in other cities, the British Motor Show is not what it once was. The concern with this latest announcement is that the UK may have held its last International Motor Show.