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Who needs a car showroom? Public spaces are the way to go now

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"BMW World is a brand and product experience for our customers. Not only are we highlighting our heritage, we're giving visitors an opportunity to see what the future holds for BMW in Singapore." - Christopher Wehner, BMW Group Asia's managing director.

Singapore

TOMORROW a motor show with a twist - all the cars there are either BMWs or Minis - opens in Singapore.

BMW World Of Passion And Joy takes place at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre this weekend, with tickets priced at S$20 apiece.

The event is essentially a BMW and Mini lovefest, with 34 cars displayed over a 45,000 square foot exhibition.

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Apart from cars from both brands' current lineup, there will be historical models as well as previews of cars slated for future launch, such as the 8 Series Coupe, BMW's glamorous new two-door car.

BMW is also showing the Concept X7, a large, seven-seat Sport Utility Vehicle that hasn't even been put into production yet.

Some cars are going on sale for the first time in Singapore, such as revamped versions of the popular BMW 2 Series tourer models.

While salesmen will be at Suntec hoping to collect orders, the event is intended to be about more than wheeling and dealing.

"BMW World is a brand and product experience for our customers. Not only are we highlighting our heritage, we're giving visitors an opportunity to see what the future holds for BMW in Singapore," said BMW Group Asia's managing director Christopher Wehner.

BMW is in the middle of its biggest product push ever, as it attempts to reclaim the lead in global luxury car sales from arch-rival Mercedes-Benz.

Events like BMW World are a way for busy brands to make a splash with potential buyers. Launching several new models (and teasing upcoming ones) at a massive party can make a bigger impact than spreading the product roll-out over several smaller events.

Such showcases are also a good way for brands to reach buyers, instead of waiting for them to drop into showrooms.

"It's all about reaching the consumers where they are and creating opportunities to interact with our brand," said Rudi Venter, the general manager for marketing at Audi Singapore.

Audi is planning a large-scale event of its own: the Audi Brand Experience is scheduled to take place over four days in October at Marina Bay Sands.

The brand has not released details about what cars will be on display, but it's expected to showcase its advancements in electric propulsion and self-driving technology.

At more than 86,000 sq ft in size, the Audi Brand Experience will have plenty of room for cars that visitors can test drive and buy on the spot, too.

Sneak previews are another reason to go. The Audi Brand Experience will likely give potential customers the chance to see and touch the Q8, the brand's new luxury crossover coupe, for the first time in Singapore.

"Our flagship Audi showroom at Alexandra Road is, of course, one of the most obvious places to get into an Audi. Events in public spaces are a further extension to this as we take the showroom to the roads," says Mr Venter.

At the opposite end of the scale are roadshows, which involve car companies taking their wares to public spaces in the hopes of drumming up sales from passing crowds. For example, local Kia importer Cycle & Carriage has a pop-up showroom at Waterway Point, a mall in Punggol, until the end of this week.

The company has six cars on display there, along with a number of cars for customers to test drive.

In Kia's case, such roadshows are a way to touch base with customers that might not consider the brand to begin with, let alone pop into its showroom on Alexandra Road.

"It's about reaching out to pockets of customers," said Dawn Pan, the general manager of Kia operations at Cycle & Carriage.

"If you're going for dinner and you happen to be there, you can test drive our cars. That's an important way to get people to understand the quality of our cars."

Kia's approach might seem a world away from BMW's - while the Korean brand is hoping for some attention from passers-by, BMW expects 15,000 people to pay to visit its Suntec exhibition - but there is a common theme to their efforts.

Both are operating on the premise that if you want your shiny new model to catch someone's eye, it makes sense to put it right in front of their face.


BMW WORLD OF PASSION AND JOY

When Aug 25 and 26, 10am to 10pm
Where Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hall 403-404
Ticket S$20 (from Sistic), free for visitors aged 17 years old and below