The new IAA in Munich

»This is no Longer a Car Show«

2. September 2021, 16:30 Uhr | Ute Häußler
Elektromobilität IAA München 2021 Deutschland Mobilität

Still 4 days until the IAA Mobility in Munich. The new concept puts mobility in the center, besides cars also ferry bikes play a major role, critical dialogs are welcome. What should be different and why Munich is the guinea pig of two industries.

Hildegard Müller, as President of the Association of German Automobile Manufacturers, put it clearly: »We have come to stay.« Aligned with climate-friendly locomotion as a social challenge, the IAA wants to go 'green' and define in Munich not only the future of mobility, but also the future of automakers and the future of the trade show business.

The IAA in Corona Times

»It is taking place - that is a great success,« says Hildegard Müller. The International Motor Show is the first major event since the Corona restrictions in March 2020. With the 3G rule, distance and maximum limits for visitors, strict conditions are being lived to ensure maximum normality for the long-awaited personal exchange. »It would have been easier not to do them,« Mueller admits bluntly. »It's not about visitor numbers, it's about quality.«

There was little about cars at the IAA press conference: the pandemic, the situation of trade show organizers and how the Munich IAA concept should set the course for a new trade show normality were key points. Klaus Dittrich, Chairman of the Board of Management of Messe München and co-organizer of the IAA Mobility, made it clear how important the trade show is for the region's economy - he put 3.6 billion in total economic losses alone due to the lockdown and the loss of the trade show business on the table. And, drawing a comparison to Munich's famous Schäfflertänzen after the plague epidemics, he was confident: »We need the courage to make a new start, and the IAA can be an initial spark. The world is now looking to Munich.«

Mobility Instead of Horsepower

The new concept of the major international automotive trade show will make many a car enthusiast's heart skip a beat: The car will no longer be the focus. »What there will no longer be are entire halls with the complete model range of a manufacturer,« says Müller. Instead, among the 700 exhibitors, there will be plenty of space for bikes, micro-mobility, tech companies, smart city concepts and living sustainability in transport, in addition to cars. Seventy bicycle manufacturers alone have registered and will occupy one and a half exhibition halls - described by IAA critics as a »green fig leaf.« But Messe München can certainly envisage becoming strong here and is pleased to have many well-known brands, some of which have given preference to the IAA over EuroBike.

Klaus Dittrich says: »The automobile plays an important role. But no longer alone, but in context with other means of transportation.« He says there needs to be a collaborative discussion of how mobility is changing. »This is no longer a car show, this is a development. When different suppliers talk to each other - with that spirit, we can move things forward.«

The new IAA Mobility not only wants to showcase environmentally friendly locomotion, but also make it 'tangible' directly for the people of the city: Munich is to be a smart mobility hub with 5G coverage during the trade show period. In addition to the actual trade fair at the Riem exhibition grounds, so-called OpenSpaces »at the most beautiful places in the city« will showcase classic and electric cars as well as ferry bikes, cargo bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters.

For direct trying out and testing, the trade fair has set up a »Blue Lane« in close cooperation with the City of Munich. The 12-kilometer lane connects the trade fair center and the city center and is reserved for hydrogen and electric cars, buses, e-scooters and automated vehicles. Classic combustion vehicles may only use the lane if they are traveling with more than 3 occupants. The environmental lane is scientifically monitored and serves as an official test project for future traffic concepts.

Car and Bike Toghether

For Hildegard Müller, the car nevertheless remains »at the center« with 2.1 billion vehicles worldwide - and must now become climate-neutral, she said, adding that Germany is a pioneer in climate-friendly mobility. In her function as spokeswoman for the German automotive industry, she sees the local manufacturers as drivers of this development. »We're not whining, we're delivering,« Müller said, pointing out that half of all electric cars on European roads come from Germany.

»The transformation of the automotive industry is in full swing. It's about implementing the EU's ambitious goals - not if, but how.« For her, this is also the basis for jobs, growth and prosperity in one of Germany's most important industries - which, despite other mobility solutions, is still the main solution for flexible, independent and efficient locomotion, especially in rural areas.

»Safer, cleaner, more digital« is one of the IAA Mobility mottos, and the auto industry wants to do its part, prioritizing the rapid ramp-up of mobility by 2030 and involving drivers in this development.

E-design, AI, protest and missing exhibitors

But the press conference did not completely hide the cars: Hildegard Müller raved about concept cars and the design studies of the electric car era. In addition to design, technology companies are also moving into the show, providing AI-based high-performance computing for automated driving, for example. Even though no manufacturer will show its entire model range anymore; the show focuses on the novelties and innovations with more than 100 world premieres. Visitors will be able to check out 38 models from 15 brands right on the Blue Lane.

IAA Mobility aims to be a meeting place for tech experts, families and a colorful trade show reboot into the post-Corona era. The mixture of car, bike, urban development and alterrnative mobility concepts should »bring extremes together«, show impulses for mega cities and rural areas, initiate critical-constructive dialogues on mobility and provide new ways of thinking.

Practice will show from 06 September how the concept works out. The information event originally planned by the Bund Naturschutz parallel to the IAA was changed to a KonTraIAA after a lack of approvals. The organizers of the Congress for Transformative Mobility taking place the same week do not see the IAA as the right place to talk about a truly climate-friendly mobility turnaround.

Elektromobilität IAA München 2021 Deutschland Mobilität

Bringing Extremes Together

As now the largest mobility event in the world, the IAA nevertheless wants to try to connect the different worlds with the new concept. According to Hildegard Müller, a six-figure number of tickets has already been sold. Nevertheless, it could be a restrained start: Despite all the safety precautions, not all the major automotive companies will be there. Ford, Waymo, Fiat-Chrysler, Peugeot and even Opel are staying away from the show. That's only partly due to the pandemic; during the lockdown, many companies have been doing their own thinking about how trade shows and premieres can work for them in the future. Opel, for example, is presenting the new Astra a week before the IAA with its own (online) event. And a few companies will first observe the concept via streaming - and see how the new IAA is literally received on the road.

The IAA under the flag of sustainable mobility, the transformation of the automotive industry, the new trade show concept and a live event under post-pandemic conditions have to prove themselves - even if the Allianz Arena is already glowing in IAA colors.

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