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  • Writer's pictureJohannes Haas

IAA MOBILITY 2023 – Quo Vadis?

Updated: Apr 18

Ein Kommentar

Schriftzug IAA Mobility als weisse 3D Buchstaben vor rotem Hintergrund

Digitalisation, autonomous driving, sharing and electromobility - what has for some time been referred to under the acronym CASE[1] as the 4 main topic areas and challenges of the automotive industry were presented last week in Munich. And it was clear to see: The entire industry, and thus also the trade fair itself, is undergoing an all-encompassing transformation process. It is just not yet foreseeable where this will lead for the IAA and the various players.

After 2021, the whole of Munich will once again become a showroom for the mobility of the future.

For many years I have been fascinated by mobility in all its facets and I have already been to several IAAs, including again this year in Munich. As well as at the Intermot in Cologne, the Eurobike in Frankfurt or the e4-Testival at the Hockenheimring. Based on my impressions on site and after following the various media reports (TV, print and social) of the past few days, I would like to make a personal comment on the current situation in Germany below.

(Almost) everyone knows the established car brands of the western world, first and foremost the German manufacturers BMW, Mercedes and VW with Audi and Porsche. Fiat, Peugeot, Renault, Seat, Skoda and Volvo have also been household names for many years. So have Ford and General Motors with their various brands and, more recently, perhaps the Japanese and Korean representatives such as Toyota/Lexus, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Kia and Hyundai/Genesis.

But who knows about the multitude of new players? Aiways, AVATR, BYD, GWM, Maxus, MG Motor, Nio, Ssangyong, XEV, Xpeng, Zeekr. Or Lucid, Polestar, Rimac? And then there is the almost daily growing number of (still) small start-ups from the micromobility and LEV sectors: ARI, CityTransformer, eGO and Microlino as well as the countless e-moped, e-bike and e-scooter manufacturers.

This list shows that the world of mobility is in the middle of an all-encompassing and global process that will dramatically change our cities, our locomotion, and indeed our entire daily lives in the coming years and decades. Against the backdrop of unmistakable climate change, this is also urgently needed and often still too slow. This year's "late summer" even during the IAA may have been nice, but against the background of the many climate catastrophes in Southern Europe and on other continents it was rather a warning signal - we have to do something!

At this point also a sentence on the various actions of the so-called "climate activists": Does it really make sense to block an event at which 98% emission-free vehicles were presented? And shouldn't they have followed the offer to participate in discussion rounds? Even though I share the goals of the groups, I consider the chosen forms of protest of the last months to be ineffective and even harmful to the cause.

IAA MOBILITY - opportunity or challenge?

So these general conditions are actually a huge opportunity for a "mobility fair" to get people in the mood for change and to bring them along. But they are also a huge challenge due to the complexity and diversity that the organisers of the IAA Mobility have created for themselves. One problem here is that the IAA was and is organised by the VDA, the (German) Association of the Automotive Industry, which is not a "neutral" institution per se. This is because "the central commitment of the VDA is to the interests of the entire German automotive industry at national and international level". This is why many representatives of public mobility services were absent, who met at the same time in Berlin at the "Zukunft Nahverkehr" event organised by Deutsche Bahn. Coincidence, intention or simply a planning mishap?

Personally, my visit to the IAA Mobility 2023 left me a little perplexed - despite the bright sunshine and many visitors on all days. Do we need an event at which the exhibitors set up partly double stands - in the exhibition halls as well as in the city centre - at immense cost (and with little sustainability?)? Do we need shows, laser effects, music events and "key notes" (often with little content) around them to attract attention? Maybe we do. But maybe we should rather think about what really helps people in their everyday lives in this transformation. Because in reality, we often still experience a frightening lack of interest or even rejection of e-mobility in car dealerships. The "petrol-heads", from the top of the company to the salesman, continue to dominate and try to hold on to the old familiar (diesel engines, SUVs, horsepower show-offs, ...). However, a few seem to have discovered an opportunity for themselves and are also putting two-wheelers, from e-bikes to high-performance e-motorcycles, and other LEVs in their showrooms.

If there is to be a future for the IAA Mobility, then it would have to be designed even more in cooperation with other industry associations and also show the seamless linking of different mobility offerings.

Because one thing became clear in Munich: People are still very interested in innovative mobility offers and are willing to try them out and use them in everyday life. If - as propagated by the traffic light government - Germany is to become the "lead market" for electromobility, then this must also be recognisable at the leading trade fairs and in the trade. The opportunity is there - it should be used courageously and without reservations!

[1] CASE stands for Connected, Autonomous, Sharing and Electrification.


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