Another tough autumn for all original Munich residents: the traditional Oktoberfest fell victim to the corona virus as early as 2020. The two-week long party on Theresienwiese was also canceled in 2021. Already in May – by decision of Prime Minister Markus Söder (54), who canceled not only the “Wiesn”, but all Bavarian folk festivals for 2021. Instead, another major event is taking place in Munich, Germany, from September 7th to 12th: the International Motor Show IAA. Today is the day for the press, tomorrow the first major European auto show after the corona pandemic will be opened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (67).
Nonetheless, there is little that is normal at this trade fair in the same way as it used to be. For the first time the show will take place in Munich. A first in every respect. In addition to the classic auto show on the exhibition grounds, the exhibitors also present themselves in downtown Munich – with hands-on offers where the public can try out tomorrow’s electrified mobility today. “E’zapft is ‘”, say IAA organizers – instead of “O’zapft is’!”, As they say when the beer runs freely at Oktoberfest.
New start in the mobility of the future
The Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA), as the organizer, is thus making a cut after the disastrous IAA 2019; back then in Frankfurt am Main (D). That was still old school: Gigantic exhibition stand construction with exclusive halls for individual brands and loud PR and marketing hoopla. The latter went under in the whistles of the climate activists, who accused the industry of driving climate protection and social trends to the cart with their glossy show. Clumsy attempts by the VDA to reach out to the protesters only made it worse.
Munich marks the new start. Proximity to the audience instead of Sunday speeches is the order of the day. «Cars, digital, bike and urban planning – we bring together today what must belong together tomorrow. We will show the new concepts and invite you to debate about the right path to climate-neutral mobility, ”says VDA Managing Director Jürgen Mindel, explaining the concept. In other words: IT giants such as Huawai or Mobileye will also be joining the automaker’s novelty show on topics such as autonomous driving and networking, suppliers showing mobility concepts and vehicles as well as 50 bicycle and bike providers showing their innovations.
Cars, bikes and digital
Therefore, with around 1000 exhibitors, the trade fair is no longer called the IAA, but rather IAA Mobility and lets the audience get close when they can try out autonomous driving, around 250 test cars, e-scooters, e-bikes or driverless parking. In the city and on “Blue Lanes” that connect the trade fair, city center and locations. Normal traffic forbidden – they are exclusive to try out. There is also a conference with 500 global players and industry giants from the mobility sector.
But: The car brand exodus will continue in 2021. Numerous brands stayed at home two years ago. Many of them have long been showing their new products more cheaply at their own events or in digital rooms. Especially since the corona pandemic is a burden on the budget. Of the established ones, only Audi, BMW, Cupra, Dacia, Ford, Genesis, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Polestar, Porsche, Renault, Smart and Volkswagen will be in Munich – some even without a booth, only with an appearance in the city . Also included: The Swiss Microlino and Rinspeed or exotic brands such as the Chinese brands ORA, WEY or Xpeng Motors.
Oktoberfest no, fair yes?
Oktoberfest no, but a yes to the big fair? Surprising, but of course there is a protection concept that only allows vaccinated, convalescent or tested people to the events or in the test vehicles. And of course, at a trade fair – without alcohol – the distance is more likely to be kept than at the Oktoberfest. But the big question will be: Does the concept work? According to their own admission, car managers love the Geneva Motor Show for its family atmosphere and manageability. But the future of mobility fairs should now be a show spread over an entire city?
Whether the IAA can re-establish itself also depends on the openness of the industry: Jürgen Mindel would like a controversial but peaceful dialogue about the right path to future green mobility for the public discussion forums on Munich’s Marienplatz. That should be the biggest challenge.