Last week Munich hosted the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, and the show had a number of firsts. This was the first time that the IAA trade fair had been held in Munich after the biannual trade fair – there is a commercial version for trucks and equipment in off-peak years – left Frankfurt, its home since 1951. It was the first trade fair. international automotive industry to stand. in person since the world was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has happened as global cases continue to rise. Finally, and especially for the future, it was the first time that the event presented itself in its new guise as an IAA Mobility trade fair. It’s no longer a car show, but a look at what will move us tomorrow as the world strives to move away from fossil fuels. Here is how it went.
The old Frankfurt Motor Show was an absolutely huge facility, and it was filled with almost every car manufacturer that has a car for sale in Europe. The debuts in 2019 can be counted in the dozen, including the BMW 4 Series Concept, Land Rover Defender and Lamborghini Sian, as well as the Mercedes EQS Concept, VW ID.3 and many more.
This year there were only a handful of automakers in attendance, including Mercedes-Benz (which had the most debuts to bring to the BMW field), BMW, Mini, Ford, Volkswagen and Renault. Many of those who were there, including Ford, only had two or three vehicles on stands which in years gone by would have had dozens. Porsche was not even present at the show, but had set up a display in the city.
Bicycle vendors have taken over from cars. Two entire rooms were filled to the brim with two-pedal machines and electric-assisted cycles. Bulls, Pegasus, Flyer, Scott, and many other brands familiar to two-wheeler enthusiasts but largely unknown to us four-wheeler journalists. A fact that I expect to change as soon as possible.
The brands of cycles were accompanied by many more sellers of cycle accessories. Tires, helmets, lights, cargo bikes and even a reusable crash protection airbag that attaches to a backpack and could likely help save cyclists’ lives when they are (almost) inevitably struck by a car and its driver.
The rapid electrification of the auto industry seems to be imminent in recent years, but the technology that made 1000hp electric cars with an estimated range of 800km possible has hit the cycling world even faster. Requiring only a handful of cells, these e-bikes can take you to work without a drop of sweat, with minimal pedal effort, and for less than your average Torontonian spends parking downtown. city in a year.
Electric city cars and other last mile solutions were also in the spotlight, including the Great Wall’s Ora brand and its surprisingly stylish Hao Mao and the cute but impossible for North America Adora. Microlino was also there with his adorable clone Isetta who roamed downtown Munich to show up at the show.
The shift from a traditional auto show to an alternative transport showcase was only part of the transition from IAA to IAA Mobility, although it had already set the event apart from any other. event we attended. It was the engagement that was the center of attention. To do more than just show off the car (and the bike), but to put those who are curious – or have not yet experienced – those new EVs, e-bikes and city cars behind the wheel, the bar or the handlebars. of these new vehicles and helping them get to the show using other alternative means of transportation that are prime time ready but just in need of a boost.
The organizers have facilitated access to the show thanks to the Blue Lane. A 12 km route on public roads that allows cyclists to experience battery-powered electric shuttles, hydrogen and other zero and low emission shuttles like the Daimler eCitaro and a CM Fluids bus that uses fuel to biomethane to run an electric motor and recharge as required. All in real traffic situations. You didn’t have access to the Voie Bleue? No problem, your event ticket will give you access to the metro to get to the show in underground comfort. Many of the show exhibitors did not even come to the main Mass, but instead settled in the historic city for you to make your way there as you wish.
Then there were the road tests. Not a few vehicles on a small loop, show visitors could drive EVs from more than a dozen automakers including Audi, BMW and even Porsche. Even more e-bikes and scooters were available. Cars could be driven on this same 12 km route, while bikes could be driven around the show (including an off-road route) or around Munich. Admission to the IAA was not required, as drivers could leave ID and drive without entering the lounge itself.
While attendance, around 400,000, was down sharply from the 560,000 at the 2019 show, it seemed like a big change for the future of the auto show. A show that gave you the usual automotive suspects, including some really cool ex-Formula 1 cars and other exotic and historic ones, but also allowed hungry car buyers to experience not only zero-emission cars, but alternatives to cars. With our need to reduce carbon emissions increasing day by day, it seems that every auto show should take a long and careful look at this model. Even the first step was smart: getting all the journalists present (as well as anyone arriving by private car) past the bicycle racks to get to the cars. I noticed and I approve.