One more week … – IAA 2021 in Munich: New beginning or decline

A different city, a new show concept and a shift in focus: the Munich IAA (September 7 to 12) no longer has much in common with its predecessor in Frankfurt apart from its name. In addition to the reduced innovations exhibition in the exhibition halls, there are other locations spread across the entire city area. There, visitors should get a concrete outlook on the mobility of tomorrow.

There is tension in the industry. Nobody really knows what to expect in Munich. Many employees of the (few) car manufacturers represented there do not even know about the new concept that applies to the IAA this time.

IAA completely new
The traditional core of the fair has always been the presentation of the new cars for the season. The Munich IAA is also presenting some premieres, with a clear focus on e-mobility. VW, for example, is showing the ID.5, a coupé-like offshoot of the ID.4 electric SUV, as well as a study of the ID.2 small battery car. With the Grandsphere Concept, premium subsidiary Audi gives an outlook on a battery-powered luxury sedan, while Seat’s offshoot Cupra is presenting a sporty small electric car as a concept vehicle.

The EQE, the electric counterpart for the E-Class, is celebrating its premiere at Mercedes.

But the IAA is not completely electric. In addition to the new e-mobiles, a few new combustion engines are also being lost in Munich. Kia, for example, lets Europeans take a look at the next generation of the Sportage compact SUV for the first time and Renault subsidiary Dacia is showing the new Jogger as the successor to the Lodgy.

Many manufacturers are missing in Munich
Compared to the last Frankfurt IAA, the number of premieres remains low. Mainly because numerous manufacturers are missing, including the new Stellantis Group with Opel, Peugeot, Citroen, Alfa, Fiat and Jeep, all Japanese brands, the classic luxury car manufacturers from Bentley to Rolls Royce, but also Skoda, Seat, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and emerging companies like Waymo.

More bicycle than car providers
The industry’s interest in the major European trade fairs has been declining for years – the appearances are too expensive, measured in terms of sales revenue, and the museum show seemed too old-fashioned in the Internet age. The industry association VDA wants to make a virtue out of necessity and has developed a completely new trade fair concept that is intended to involve the organizing city and its residents more closely.

As a result, the IAA is now spread across half of the city – “Open Space” is what the VDA calls it. In nine large squares and prominent streets – from Königplatz to Wittelsbacher Platz – IT companies are now increasingly presenting themselves alongside car manufacturers and traditional suppliers , Researchers and even 70 brands from the bicycle and e-bike industry. The individual locations are connected by what is known as the “Blue Lane”, on which you can either be shuttled in the bus or you can do it yourself with test cars and micro-mobiles.

Folk festival or protest mood?
It remains to be seen how the sprawled and newly focussed fair will be accepted by the classic auto show audience. Also whether new groups of visitors can be addressed who would normally not attend the IAA. It could help that the fair, which has been partially converted into a folk festival, takes place in the last Bavarian summer holiday week and could thus also become a destination for family outings. It is clear, however, that there will be protests and demonstrations by environmentalists and car opponents again and, given the Open Spaces, they don’t even have to overcome fences or other hurdles, as they did recently in Frankfurt.

Sword of Damocles Covid
In addition, Corona threatens to become a disruptive factor. Major events in Bavaria have only been allowed again at all since the beginning of August; and how quickly something like this can change has been seen several times in the pandemic. But even without further conditions or even a rejection, the pandemic situation makes a visit to the IAA less attractive, especially for foreign guests. After all, the VDA has a clear concept: The basic rule for admission is the 3G principle for visitors and exhibitors – vaccinated, recovered or tested plus a distance requirement. Theoretically, there is also a maximum capacity: in the exhibition halls it is 50,000 visitors at the same time, in the city it is 30,000 people. Day tickets are available from 20 euros, reduced rates from 10 euros. Visiting the venues in the city center is free. (SPX)