Last revised: 26-1-2009

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AutoRAI 2005: the concept cars

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The biannual Amsterdam Auto Show named the AutoRAI went through another edition in 2005. This time the intention was to make the show a bit more spectacular and to aim at a younger audience, but the result was slightly disappointing. Though most exhibitors had put a lot of work and creativity in their stands the general impression couldn't surpass that of one very large car dealership. It was noticeable that car sales were in sort of a slum and that economy measures had been taken. This resulted in the absence of Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia which left quite a void, and also in the reuse of props and decorations seen in previous editions of the AutoRAI by some of the exhibitors. Also the number of concept-, show- and special cars on show was disappointing, certainly when compared to the abundance displayed at the Geneva Auto Show a few weeks later.
Still it wasn't a bad show, just not a step up from the promising 2003 edition. The organizers followed the international trend of diversification, adding small sub-exhibitions across the complex with specific themes like classic cars, sports cars, cars on alternative fuel etc. In general the quality of these displays was not quite up to par, the selections seeming a bit uninformed and too easily made. Things like taking your pick from the collection of the national car museum and shipping them over to the RAI complex just doesn't make a stimulating show. Putting more time and effort in finding special cars which are rarely seen would have enhanced the whole show considerably. But fortunately there was still plenty to see and enjoy for the 100,000s of car lovers attracted to the show.

The exhibitors showed a high level in display design; practically all stands looked attractive, were well lit and there was enough variation. Disappointing was the display of Honda which appeared gloomy and cluttered. Worst display in my opinion was offered however by BMW, one of the makes which were lacking from the previous edition and had decided to return. Instead of having one stand with all models displayed BMW had a small stand showing only the new "1" series, some accessories and a Formula 1 car, and additional "display windows" spread across the complex showing examples of other model series on offer. These display windows were closed boxes with a large glass pane on one side showing the car inside. On regular intervals graphics and animations were projected on these panes with information about the cars. Problem was that the cars inside could hardly be seen due to the closed structure of the boxes and the low light inside to make the projections on the panes possible. In other words: most visitors just saw the boxes and not the cars, and that can't be the intention of a car show. So this idea, however original, just didn't work.
Remarkable was the return of female models shown with the cars. In the 1960s and 1970s this was common practice, but with the rise of feminism this way of attracting attention became not-done and disappeared. But now several makes indulged again in having appealing young women modelling next to and in their cars for the general public. Especially Chevrolet (formerly Daewoo) was very up-front with this. The male audience seemed to like it (which is about 90% of the visitors) while most female visitors were appalled. It will be interesting to see where this is going to lead to in the near future.

The organizers of the AutoRAI have expressed their intention to shift the traditional early February date to a date after the more important car shows like Geneva for the next edition. Now a lot of new models are missed because the manufacturers save them for an introduction at a more esteemed car show, and in 2 years time at the following AutoRAI these models are just old news. To give the Dutch public the opportunity to see all the latest cars something must change, and shifting the date could do the trick. I think it's a good idea and it might be crucial for the future of the AutoRAI.
Like in previous editions I'd like to give you an impression of the 2005 AutoRAI by showing you a collection of the show- and concept cars which were on display on the following pages. I hope you'll enjoy.

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