Show Review: Automechanika Birmingham 2016

With Britain’s automotive industry enjoying a robust prolonged period of prosperity, it was surely time that the global Automechanika show format came to the UK. Torque speaks with the show’s Event Director, Simon Albert, on a strong debut and with the fastener and tool firms that exhibited…

There are plenty of signs that the UK debut of Automechanika was long overdue. If you’re not familiar with the show concept, Automechanika is a series of exhibitions held around a diverse range of global locations, including New Delhi, Madrid, St Petersburg, Istanbul, Johannesburg…and now Birmingham.

Run by Messe Frankfurt, the show brings together automotive trade exhibitors and visitors and the success of its first UK showing has led to some pretty bold claims – the organiser said next year’s will be twice the size and that only half of the stand space is remaining, this for a show taking place in 11-months’ time.

Judging by the show’s popularity, all the indicators were that it was high time for Automechanika to take place in Britain. It was the continued success of the car sector here in Blighty that proved the tipping point for the organiser, Event Director Simon Albert, explained to Torque Magazine: “The UK automotive industry is enjoying unprecedented success, both in terms of vehicle production and vehicle sales. Tier 1 suppliers alone have demonstrated a 32% sales growth over the past five years and the automotive aftermarket continues to grow and innovate.

“Every successful industry deserves a platform that showcases its products and services. Automechanika Birmingham was launched to do just that and with the exhibition space sold out six months prior to launch, it clearly is the exhibition demanded by the industry.”

Over 12,000 trade visitors came to the show – held at the NEC – over the course of the three days, with 600 exhibitors. Hilka, TR Fastenings and Heico (see below) were among the exhibitors more familiar to the Torque world that appeared at the show, as well as the likes of Southco, Draper Tools, Springmasters and Total Bolt Solutions, among others.

“The new UK exhibition reflects the huge success generated by the original Automechanika event at the Frankfurt Messe, which has now expanded into exhibitions at 15 international locations, making it the most successful automotive trade show series globally. The UK version will become the largest Automechanika debut show in history outside Frankfurt.”

Targets for space, number of exhibitors and visitors were surpassed, according to the organiser, with buyers from every UK based vehicle manufacturer, through to motor factors and independent workshops, attending. Buyers from the supply chain included: Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Europe, General Motors, Rolls Royce, Nissan, McLaren, Toyota, Calsonic, Delphi, Denso, Faurecia, Gestamp, Bosch, Schaeffler and Lear. There were buyers from the Aftermarket too, such as Halfords, Kwik Fit, Groupauto, Motaquip, Andrew Page, UAN, GSF Car Parts, The Parts Alliance, Euro Car Parts.

Albert said: “The show was busy through all three days, from when the doors opened in the morning to when they closed in the evening. Celebrity visits from Suzi Perry, Mark Webber and Rachel Riley added a real buzz. The best highlight was feeling the excitement and positive energy in the halls and talking to the many happy exhibitors, buyers and press.”

So what about this expanded 2017 edition, boldly planned at this early stage? There’s plenty of detail in the plans the organiser shares with Torque to keep the faith: As aforementioned, 2017 will be double the size of the 2016 event, with an improved format. There’s a new setting for the show, over halls six and 17 to 20, with over 1,000 exhibitors. A dedicated zone in Hall six will be set up to drive the right footfall to Supply Chain exhibitors. Significantly, the Reifen tyre exhibition will co-locate with Automechanika Birmingham, providing further incentive to get along.

With the companies we spoke to giving the show a big thumbs up (see below), it seems a safe bet that more curious fastener and tool firms will be
motoring over to Birmingham for the show in 2017.

Torque Magazine rounded up exhibitors from the show to find out if Automechanika Birmingham was for them. We quizzed Hilka’s Senior Product Manager & Buyer Matt Walker, TR Fastenings Group Sales Director Glenda Roberts and Paul Windsor, Heico’s National Sales Manager…

Torque: What were your expectations for Automechanika Birmingham?

Matt Walker, Hilka: “Our expectations of Automechanika were to showcase the fantastic Hilka range of tools, storage and garage equipment to a good variety of existing customers and potential new customers. We were anticipating an extremely well run show with a good turnout. The aim at the show was to promote our newer products to existing customers but also demonstrate our fantastic range of automotive products to potential customers and companies that may not be familiar with the Hilka brand or the wide ranges of products we have.”

Glenda Roberts, TR Fastenings: “We were aware it had previously been solely an aftermarket show, and knew from the SMMT meeting that this year the focus would change and they wanted component suppliers at the exhibition. This was a great showcase for us as many of the Tier 1s we already supply would be visiting. The chance to showcase the company and our capability was a compelling opportunity and we did not want to miss out on it.”

Paul Windsor, Heico: “Our expectations for the show were to meet potential customers from across the automotive industry and really get the message out into the market of the services and products that we offer.”

Torque: Did the reality match up to those expectations? Was your stand busy?

Matt Walker, Hilka: “The show did indeed match up to our expectations; the show was fantastically run with a great selection of exhibitors. Set up and break down was smooth with turnout to the show good considering it was the first time the show has run in the UK. As a result of this, our stand itself was busy during the show with a steady stream of people throughout the three days.”

Glenda Roberts, TR Fastenings: “We were busy within an hour of the doors opening and were very pleased with the volume of visitors. And most
were the design and technical personnel. We showcased an extensive range of complex forged parts that we manufacture in our facilities alongside other components that we source and supply.”

Paul Windsor, Heico: “We recorded excellent visitor numbers from all sectors of the industry and there was a good all-round buzz about the show.”

Torque: What was most popular at your stand? A particular product or service?

Matt Walker, Hilka: “The most popular products at our stand were some of our newer items as well as some of our existing popular products.
Items getting particular attention were our fantastic new jump starter power bank, range of garage lifting equipment & our range of
tool storage including our newly released Classic Storage Unit.”

Glenda Roberts, TR Fastenings: “Definitely the interest in the range of product that we displayed, and the support that our technical staff could provide.”

Paul Windsor, Heico: “We got a lot of interest for our precision cold formed parts service, which was our main product offering for the show but we got some really good feedback about our wedge locking wheel nuts that incorporate our Heico-Lock® anti-vibration washers.”

Torque: Any final thoughts?

Matt Walker, Hilka: “In conclusion, Automechanika was a well-run show with good footfall allowing us the perfect platform to showcase our company, brands and product range. The show will enable us to further enhance the Hilka brand to those who may not be familiar with the company. For those who did not manage to visit the stand more information on the company and products can be found at: or email:

Glenda Roberts, TR Fastenings: “We have signed up again for next year and this time I would like to see even more component suppliers there as it would attract an even higher footfall…which can only be good for us all.”

Paul Windsor, Heico: “We felt we got excellent support from the SMMT, particularly with the ‘Meet The Buyer’ event and also the show app, which we though was great. Also it was appreciated that the organisers have listened to the exhibitors and next year there will be a specific ‘Supply Chain’ area which we think will be ideal for us.”

This article originally appearing in the July edition of Torque Magazine. Read the whole mag online for free or on our app.