The Motor Show attracted up to 750,000 people and occupied 11 of the 12 Buildings at the Heysel Exhibition Centre. It was 2002, more than twenty years ago. In other words, prehistory. Complete thermal and diesel. Times have changed. The Motor Show likewise. Its director, Gabriel Goffoy, who also manages communications for FEBIAC, the Belgian Automobile and Cycle Federation, is a menagerie man. The son of a merchant and former commercial director of the Benelux of a major German manufacturer, he knows a lot …
Absent only six Palais, Volvo and Ferrari… Is this 100th edition a “small” Salone?
Gabriel Goffoy – There is no longer any difference between a “large” and a “small” Salon. It’s just a real car show. Even more this year. Because we wanted to concentrate everything on our core business. And our core business is individual mobility, the car. There is no Palace dedicated, for example, to motorcycles. We focused on the car. And we made do with six Palaces for lack of access to all of Heysel’s infrastructure. In Building 1, there is a James Bond exhibition, in Building 2, a Johnny Hallyday Exhibitionin pavilions 3 and 4, the Brafa will open…
So you have to expect long queues?
No. For the first time ever, we have installed ticket purchasing software that allows people to indicate which day they want to come. These days have changing color codes (depending on the number of tickets purchased for that day). To direct the public towards days when the expected attendance is lower.
Lots of news: 14 European previews and 48 national previews.
What are the novelties, the particularities of this 2023 edition?
We have 60 brands represented and many new products: 14 European previews and 48 national previews. Showing the products is the important part of this fair. The other part is event driven. And it is divided into three animations. First of all, an immersive audio/video/laser space around around fifteen vehicles that have marked the history of the automobile. Then, we have 800 m2 where it will be possible to compete in full size Formula 1 simulators. Tax consequences, how to recharge, how much it costs to fill up with electricity, which strategy for which brand, etc. Why people ask a lot of questions…
Even the Febiac, without a doubt… Between the end of the heat engine in 2035 and urban centers that are less and less car-friendly, what are the Federation’s lines of thought?
How to create the conditions that will facilitate the energy transition? We are selling more and more electric cars. But to continue this movement, we need more charging stations and enough “green” electricity. We are attentive to this because one or the other topic is not necessarily obvious. Another point that concerns us is taxation. You should know that if work in Belgium is subject to the highest taxation in Europe, the same goes for the car. We are therefore in favor of all tax measures that motivate motorists to make a more CO2-friendly choice, but not by further increasing taxes on less CO2-friendly choices.
Belgium is the only country in Europe where there are no incentives for buying an electric car.
The car is already a cash cow. Decrease: yes. Increase: no. In fact, at Febiac, what worries us is a certain attitude of the authorities… We see that when it comes to mobility, the public authorities think in terms of restrictions. We can no longer return with such a vehicle to such a city. We place stones in certain streets and baptize traffic plans with names that express the very opposite of reality. Today, there is a fleet of 5.8 million vehicles in Belgium. We sell 400,000 new vehicles a year, 10% of which are fully electric (86% of company cars). At this rate, it would take more than 100 years for the park to be fully electric. Belgium is the only country in Europe where there is no incentive for a private individual to purchase an electric car. If we want the population to convert to zero-emission mobility, the political powers must implement these incentives. Instead of conducting a restrictive policy that risks disgusting people and alienating them from this just environmental cause.
What do you think of the Toyota boss’s statement referring to a “silent majority” of manufacturers who doubted a future car focused exclusively on electric?
It is in line with reality. Firstly, as the migration to electricity must be global, it must not be limited to the European framework. CO2 emissions produced elsewhere have the same effect on “our” climate as those produced here. We are in line with the Paris climate agreement. Production is ready (delays in deliveries, a consequence of the semiconductor crisis, should be zeroed in 2024) to comply with European regulations. But it makes no sense if this transition is limited to one region of the world. This “silent majority” is what they think. He also thinks that the heat engine will always have its role to play. In some parts of the world, this will be the only solution. And then the fuel for internal combustion engines is becoming more and more “eco-friendly”. Synthetic fuels are the ultimate example of this. Sure, they’re expensive. But within 10 or 15 years, it is conceivable that they will be accessible. No door should be closed…
The Motor Showfrom 14 to 22 January 2023 at Brussels Expo (Heysel).