'Faced with a situation in which most car companies are suffering from difficult trading conditions internationally, the makers are seeking extraordinary economies,' said Clarion Events director, Mark Saunders.
'Although we have a very successful track record regularly delivering more than 360,000 visitors during the biennial, twelve day public show, the economic situation has weighed against us this year.'
A 'radical' new exhibition format involving 'showcase stands' in which like models from all manufacturers would be displayed involving exhibitors in greatly reduced costs, was announced by Clarion in April. The 'new motor show' was well received by the motoring press and visitors, said Saunders, but this enrthusiasm was not matched by the car manufacturers.
Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler Jeep, Ferrari, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu, Mini, MG Rover, VW and BMW were among the motor show defectors.
'At this stage with only 14 weeks to go and after much deliberation, we have taken the decision to curtail our ambitions for 2001 and focus our efforts on delivering an exhibition presentation for 2003 that is consistent with our track record. I would like to apologise to the many visitors who were counting on a first class motor show this year and to assure them of our commitment to 2003,' Saunders said.
A spokesman for the SMMT said that despite its cancellation the lack of a UK 'showcase' for car manufacturers was unlikely to have any impact on new car sales.
He said: 'A decision like this doesn't enhance the industry's image, but I doubt sales will plummet.'