Opening Day at EICMA’s Motorcycle Show

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Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with the director of EICMA Costantino Ruggiero during opening day ceremonies. It's a memorable show for Ruggiero, who is retiring this year after 25 years as executive director of ANCMA, the Italian motorcycle and bicycle trade association, and head of the group's EICMA show.

Huge show venue covers area of nearly 47 football fields

MILAN — It’s been seven years since I walked this world’s largest motorcycle show,but it seems as though I was never gone.

While much has changed at EICMA, much is the same— the almost overwhelming size, the jammed press conference schedule on the first two days (Tuesday and Wednesday have 21 press conferences) devoted to trade and press representatives. The doors open to the general public on Thursday. By the time this 68th edition of EICMA wraps up on Sunday, Nov. 7, close to 500,000 people will have walked these aisles.

The highlight of the first day, for Italians certainly if not for foreign visitors, was the opening ceremony featuring Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Security seemed especially tight for Berlusconi’s visit this year and made it almost impossible to move through the presentation area in the main administration building that houses EICMA offices and the media room where we do a lot of our work. The media center is set up with computer facilities, and it hosts the drop off area where exhibitors distribute information to the media.

Unlike in past sessions when Italy’s top politicians opened the show with comments related to motorcycles, often discussing transportation issues and plans for boosting Italy’s important motorcycle and bicycle industries, Berlusconi used Tuesday’s event as an opportunity to poke barbs at his political opponents and to talk about general political issues. Recycling,  garbage issues in Naples and proposed wire tap legislation didn’t hold much interest for international guests looking for news about motorcycles.

Berlusconi, who has a reputation for dating young women, also took a shot at a political opponent, who is gay. Not surprisingly, Italian newspapers played up the gay comments this morning. Show organizers also started receiving emails from gays who are working the show complaining about the comments. Nobody ever said Italian events are dull.

 

Constantino Ruggiero

One plus of the session was that we were provided with head sets so we could here instant translations. In the past, we had to rush about looking for English language transcripts that were only modestly useful. The press conference also was an opportunity to announce the retirement of Costantino Ruggiero, who this year is leaving his posts as executive director of EICMA and ANCMA, Italy’s national motorcycle and bicycle trade association. ANCMA is comparable to the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) in the U.S., and owns and operates the EICMA show. In these twin positions, Ruggiero arguably has been one of the most important figures in Italy’s motorcycle industry for more than two decades. The 73-year-old Ruggiero hasn’t announced retirement plans, and it will be interesting to watch the changes under new leadership for these two important organizations.

The show floor is huge, of course. It has to be to house the world’s largest motorcycle show. The show covers 2.7 million sq. ft, and includes 532,800 sq. ft. of booth space in six separate halls. The net booth space alone covers almost 10 football fields. There are more than 1,100 brands from 39 countries represented. After grabbing a  show directory from the press office, I made a quick (actually it took about two hours) run through of all six halls to get a feel for the show and to identify areas that I want to cover in more detail later.

Here are several first impressions:

  • Representation of companies from China and Taiwan seems to have been reduced. In the past, there were separate large pavilions for each country. This year, there are smaller collections. It’s tough to quantify, but the EICMA folks are running a report for me from their exhibitor database that will make it easier to see what’s happening here. Show management told me that companies from China, Taiwan and Pakistan rotate their presence between German and Italian shows. Germany had its Intermot Show in Cologne this year.
  • Green Planet is a separate pavilion set up to promote electric vehicles. The indoor area includes a popular test drive area where attendees can ride electric bicycles and scooters.
  • The U.S. pavilion has some interesting companies, including Saxon Motorcycles which is building a European dealer network, and Go Go Gear, the Los Angeles apparel maker of stylish riding armor. The MIC also has a booth in this pavilion to promote its programs and to demonstrate its cooperation with the Italian motorcycle industry. Tim Buche, MIC president, is participating here as a further indication of MIC’s significant involvement.
  • The Japanese majors, as well as OEMs such as Harley-Davidson, Ducati and BMW have huge displays, but Arctic Cat and Polaris aren’t here. BRP does have a presence, showing its Spyder and Commander UTV.
  • The two most dramatic new product introductions were made by Ducati and Honda. Ducati rented a theater off-site, away from the convention center Monday afternoon to introduce its Diavel 1200 before hundreds of people at Teatro Carcano. Honda introduced its CrossTourer 1200 a shot at Ducati’s Multistrada 1200 in the first press conference of the day. Whether intentional or not, it was conducted in the same area and at the same time as the opening ceremonies with Prime MinisterBerlusconi. I didn’t attend the Honda event, but another journalist noted that Honda really pumped up the importance of Europe to its business. He noted that one Honda slide read, “Europe is our most important market.” Hmmmm

The first day concluded with a dinner and press conference hosted by Pirelli to introduce its Diablo Rosso II tire. The event was held at the elegant Villa San Carlo Borromeo di Senago in the countryside outside Milan. The Villa houses a five-star, luxury hotel, converted from a former private residence built in the fifteenth century. The event also featured a panel discussion by industry leaders about a new program to promote the heritage of motorcycling in Italy. Manufacturers have been requested to develop the motorcycle heritage them in their marketing campaigns.

Dinner wrapped up after 11 am, and we were back at the hotel by midnight. The end of a long first day. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas at
joe@powersportsupdate.com or 612/845-8091.

 

 

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One Response to “Opening Day at EICMA’s Motorcycle Show”

  1. Carey Bohn Says:

    Watch out for those Italian desserts!

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