The countdown to South Africa’s bi-annual Auto Africa exhibition has begun and the show, open to the public from October 27, will preview and launch several new vehicles on to the local market.

The countdown to South Africa’s bi-annual Auto Africa exhibition has begun and the show, open to the public from October 27, will preview and launch several new vehicles on to the local market.

"Auto Africa 2004 provides a platform for motor manufacturers to showcase their very latest products. Some vehicles are entirely new globally, while others are introductions to the African market," said Pula Dippenaar, Auto Africa exhibition director.

The show, held at Johannesburg’s Nasrec centre, runs until October 31. One of the exciting vehicles on display will be the Audi RSQ concept. Showcased in the futuristic film “I, Robot” starring Will Smith, the car was built especially for the film according to the producers’ requests.

According to Audi SA spokesman Rudy Venter, the futuristic car will be displayed alongside existing Audi passenger cars, including the A3, A4, A6 and A8 ranges.

Mercedes-Benz will display its Mercedes-McLaren SLR though the supercar, only available in left-hand drive, will not be available in this country.

Kia will use the opportunity to present its latest Sportage SUV and launch a commercial one tonne truck.

Citroën’s new C4 and C5 will be previewed too, fresh from their international launches at the Paris Show two weeks ago. Expect these exciting models to be available locally towards the middle of 2005.

Many manufacturers, however, would prefer to keep their surprises to themselves until then.

"Let's just say that as usual VW will be launching new, innovative and unusual concepts at Auto Africa," Bill Stephens, VWSA's general manager for communications, said.

"Auto Africa 2004 represents the opportunity for manufacturers to promote and even increase their market share, not only here, but across the continent."

"The major industry sectors will be handled as separate entities. These sectors consist of the passenger and light commercial vehicle marketers, garage equipment and body repair industry, the component and manufacturing industry, the aftermarket industry and the heavy truck industry.

"There will also be numerous outdoor exhibits and activities with demonstrations of advanced driving techniques, a 4X4 track, aerobatic displays and a rally stage," Dippenaar said.

Auto Africa tickets are available at Computicket and in the November issue of Car magazine on sale in Gauteng from October 22.

The CAR Conference (held in association with Nedbank Vehicle Finance), will take place at the Auto Africa Expo on Wednesday October 27.