Mixed Response To Brisbane AutoMall

Penned as a ‘World First’ the proposed multi-million dollar dealership mall and test track at Brisbane airport could have varied outcomes for Dealers

AutoMall is a grand concept that, if completed, could have a significant impact on the Brisbane automotive scene. Though it’s being heralded as a revolutionary development by Brisbane Airport Corporation’s property arm BNE Property, there are a number of potential pitfalls for Dealers that are already operating in the region.

If you haven’t heard, AutoMall is to comprise of a large test track surrounded by facilities for dealerships and other car-related businesses. A 50 hectare site has been reserved for the development at the airport which is expected to become Queensland’s premier destination for new model launches, driver-training programs, car yards and new car fleet launches. The site sits opposite Brisbane’s International Terminal – between Airport Drive and Moreton Drive.

Adding to the excitement, the test track (note: not a race track) has been designed by V8 Supercars and Bathurst 1000 champion Mark Skaif.

‘Having the ability to test drive a new vehicle along a track is such a unique concept and something I am really excited to be a part of,’ Mr Skaife said.

‘Being able to drive a car straight from the showroom on to a purpose-built test track without having to wait at traffic lights and sit in congestion is fantastic. You don’t even have to be a car fanatic to appreciate that.’
Skaif goes even further, describing the advantages of the layout for Dealers:

‘It’s a unique way for customers to try out a new vehicle and a great way for dealerships to really sell the features of their cars. Having a range of dealerships and associated services at the one central precinct is just what Brisbane needs.’
Naturally, these sentiments are echoed by BNE Property managing director John Tormey who sites the benefit of a single shopping destination:

‘It makes a lot of sense for a modern city,’ Mr Tormey said.

Meanwhile, Brisbane Airport Corporation chief executive officer Julieanne Alroe, suggests that the AutoMall will help relieve congestion from within the busy streets of Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley – where many dealerships are currently dispersed.

‘Having an automotive precinct at the airport frees up prime real estate in the inner city areas,’ she said.

‘And it provides further options for developers and residents and space for our cultural precincts to prosper.’

But it’s not all necessarily good news for Dealers.

Dealerships are given the responsibility to service a particular Prime Market Area (PMA) – that is the zone in which Dealers are guaranteed competing dealerships (representing the same manufacturer) cannot directly market. PMAs are crucial to the dealership business – not only do they help ensure fairness; but that the Dealer’s substantial investment in the franchise has a better chance of being returned.

The Brisbane AutoMall will fall within a number of established Dealer PMAs already operating in the proposed site’s radius. This creates a number of potential issues, the severity of which depends on the individual Dealer. Some business owners who are forced to relocate risk losing substantial sums of money invested into their existing facilities at the request of the manufacturer.

On the other hand, those that choose to remain in their current location could be at risk of having their PMAs compromised by new and competing dealerships developed at Brisbane’s airport – in breach of their PMA agreement.
Because the AutoMall site is on commonwealth leasehold land, the Brisbane Airport Corporation does not need council approval to begin development. However, the AADA is concerned that existing arrangements and long term planning could be put at risk by this development if the aforementioned concerns are not addressed.

For now though, the Brisbane Airport Corporation is still on the hunt for a joint venture partner to assist in the development of this multi-million dollar concept.

What are your thoughts on the AutoMall?

Share them with us via editor@automotivedealer.com.au

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