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The Bond and Commercial Motors.

5th March 1908, Page 3
5th March 1908
Page 3
Page 4
Page 3, 5th March 1908 — The Bond and Commercial Motors.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Ry Henry Sturrney.

Exception is being taken in some quarters to the operation of the Olympia Exhibition Bond, where manufacturers of commercial cars are concerned. This comes of trying to tar two fences with the same brush, for it must be admitted that the conditions of the pleasure-car trade and those pertaining in the " heavy " side of the industry—more particularly in the very heavy side—are almost entirely different. I do not think the " heavy " men would object to the Bond, if i.t were interpreted in what they consider—and I confess with reason—a reasonable manner, but the Society has laid down the law in a most sweeping fashion in regard to the Bond. Certainly in a more sweeping manner than was originally intended, for it has made it to cover a much wider sphere of influence than, I believe, most Bond signers had any idea of, when they first put their signatures to it, and, further than this, it has interpreted the Bond to read the same way for commercial cars as for pleasure cars. It is perhaps difficult to see why " fish should be made of one, and fowl of the other." On the face of it, all things being equal, a Bond is a Bond, and an interpretation is an interpretation, and, so far as the Society is concerned, the interpretation, and, having committed itself to this reading of it, it has, perhaps, scarcely a logical way out, if a difference is to be made, but all things are not equal by any means. In the pleasure-car trade, we had, and have, a large demand on the part of the public for cars, and a still larger demand to see them. The public as a whole, quite apart from the buying section of it, has been, and is, taking an ever-increasing interest in the nmtorcar—that is, in the pleasure car—and not in the commercial vehicle, and, as a result, eager exhibition promoters, seeing the large possibilities for profit to be secured by running an exhibition of such a popular character, were catering for the demand on all sides, and the unfortunate motorcar manufacturer was called upon to pay the piper. The object of the Society in bringing all the trade together, so far as possible, in one official and recognised show, was, and is, a wiseone, and the Bond has certainly been the means by which it has been enabled to do it. The pleasure car, however, appeals to the public as a whole; to that portion of the public, broadly, which has enough money in its pocket to buy one, irrespective of what the individual's position in life and calling may be, and whilst that public—as well as that portion of it which is interested but cannot buy—may be attracted by a motorcar show, it is hardly likely to be drawn to an exhibition of some totally different character, in which a particular type of car for a particular purpose might perchance find a place. The object, however, was to curtail and control motor exhibitions and, in order that motor exhibitions should not be built up by exhibitions cf motorcars under another name, the Society has been doubtless wise in giving a sweeping interpretation to the Bond. When we come to the commercial-vehicle side of the question, • however, the conditions are entirely different. True, they are both motor-propelled vehicles, and hence they are motorcars,

but here the similarity ends. The public, as a whole, is no attracted, and an exhibition of vans, or lorries, including omnibuses, is not by any means likely to attract" the man in the street," whether the vehicles be motor propelled, or are of the horse-drawn order; therefore, the " gate " has no attraction, or very little, for the exhibition promoter. Promoters of motor exhibitions, both in London and the provinces, have been glad to fill the corners of their spaces with commercial vehicles, but, perhaps with a single exception, they have never looked upon this side of the question as an important one, and, so long as such shows are "motor" exhibitions, they are rightly covered by the Society's definition of the Bond requirements, and really I do not think that the manufacturer of the " heavies " is very seriously interested in these shows, which appeal almost entirely to the general public. What he is interested in, and interested most seriously, too, is the means whereby he may get at, and interest, the people who are likely to use his productions. No one wants a motor lorry, or van, unless he is in some business requiring its employment. Of what use, therefore, is it for the manufacturer to exhibit such vehicles to an audience, yo per rent. of whom have no business interests whatever; this is what he is doing when he exhibits at an ordinary motorcar show. Pt special exhibition of commercial motor vehicles, such as that to be held at Olympia this month, is a different thing, because it is to be presumed that that portion of the trading communiey which has brought itself to the point ef

considering the question will be paying a serious business visit. So far, so good; but the commercial car manufacture:goes further. Tie argues that, if he waits till the trading community, of itself, or by gradual observation of progressive ideas, tumbles to the fact that it wants motor vehicles, he may have to wait a long time, and he argues, with a very large amount of reason, that his best line of business policy is, under existing circumstances of demand, to endeavour to create that demand by bringing the whoie idea of the motor vehicle—and of his goods in particular directly under the notice of those persons who have in their businesses an already existent, though not, perhaps, recognised, need for such vehicles, and he concludes that, as those manufacturers, in any trade, who are desirous of keeping themselves very fully informed upon the latest developments of their own particular industry, will, in the natural order of things, visit any special exhibition relating to the particular needs and requirements of that particular business, his place is to be on the spot, so that he may point out to them, and . attempt to convince them, that improved methods of transportation are just as important in their particular business as improved methods of production. Thus, a company building grocers vans, for instance, is desirous to get in touch with :men in the grocery trade, and a natural means of doing this is to catch them when they go to their annual Grocers' Exhibition. The same with the bakers and other retail tradesmen, and those catering for the heavy-lorry business would naturally want to get in touch with the class of customers they require by attending such an exhibition as that of the builders, for instance. When it comes to the steam wagon men, as quite a large opening for their class of productions is to be found amongst the tillers of the soil, it is only natural that the Agricultural Show should appeal to them as a means of getting in touch with customers.

Is there a Grievance?

Well, if such exhibitions as these do contain here and there a motor vehicle, they are certainly " exhibitions of motorcars," but they are, quite as certainly, not " motor exhibitions," and it seems to rne that the grievance of the " heavy " men is just this, that, so far as their side of the industry is concerned, the Society translates its Bond as a positive bar against, not only " motor exhibitions," but against "exhibitions of motorcars," which translation affects all these special outlets for business enterprise, and herein, I think, the " heavy " men in truth have a grievance. T. have felt it so myself, and have indeed, before now, very seriously considered the question as to whether, under all existing conditions of trade, the Bond, to the commercial car manufacturer, is " worth the candle." It must be remembered that there is one great distinction between these different, special, trade exhibitions and the ordinary motorcar show, even the Commercial Vehicle Show, and that is, that they do not affect all alike, consequently manufacturers. would not feel compelled—as they do at present when a motorcar show is held—to exhibit there on the ground that Smith, and Jones, and Brown and Robinson and Tompkins,. will all be showing there, and, if they themselves are away, they may miss some trade. With these particular trade shows—side shows to the motor industry, I may almost term them—it is of little use, for instance, for the manufacturer of io 01' 12 cwt. tradesmen's vans, to appeal lo builders or millers, or firms in other trades, whose shifting requirements run into the tons rather than the cwt., and the maker of the steam wagon and of the 4 or 5-Lon lorry, will find little to attract him in an exhibition like that of the grocers, which appeals purely, or almost entirely, to retailers. Therefore,. it seems to me, that, whilst the Society is legitimately and rightly holding its commercial members together under the Bond, so far as " motor exhibitions " are concerned, it is deliberately standing in the way of the natural and legitimate development of their trade by barring these special outlets for business enterprise, which, I cannot help thinking, are better left to the good judgment of the individual manufacturer to let alone, or support, according as the particular nature of the vehicles he is building fits in with that of the especial class of business men who are likely to be attracted to the show under consideration.


People: Henry Sturrney
Locations: London

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