That’s how it is when theory and practice diverge: While the former VDA boss Bernhard Mattes announced a new beginning at the International Automobile Exhibition 2019 (IAA), the exhibition halls were once again full of the same fuel wasters as always.
The design of the exhibition stands remained the same, and just as in previous years, visitors were mainly interested in large-engined sports cars. That should be clear: Neither the automobile companies nor the consumers really want to dare anything new at the moment. What was is still attractive, although not as well as in the golden years of the car industry.
During the opening ceremony of the IAA 2019, which took place from 12 to 22 September in Frankfurt am Main, Mattes talked a lot about the environment, CO2 and responsibility. (“We represent sustainable and individual mobility.”) It was a vain attempt to save Germany’s biggest car show. However, so many discussions concerning the IAA and the trade fair venue Frankfurt had already been announced in advance that the words sounded more like crying to oneself in the woods and not at all like a rousing encouragement to tear around an almost already lost game. Although Hessian Minister President Volker Bouffier also gave his best in an almost statesman-like speech to take the wind out of the sails of migration rumours, a quick glance into the halls was enough to see that fundamental changes were needed.
Despite the announcement of Mattes (“An IAA like it never existed before”) the appearance was as always – only smaller. Where BMW used to occupy an entire hall alone, Opel and Hyundai also fitted in this year. Worldwide important car manufacturers like Toyota, Renault or Fiat-Chrysler were not there. With them there were also 200 other exhibitors missing who were still there in 2017 (2019: approx. 800 – 2013: approx. 1,100). The exhibition space was also a good 15 percent smaller than two years ago (2019: 168,000 square metres), several halls were completely empty. There were no really fundamental new developments to be seen, even though the VDA had announced that it wanted to make the event more interesting with a new concept.
“Individual mobility and climate protection are not contradictory. […] We do what we can, and we can do a lot.”
Bernhard Mattes, VDA
read more in H2-international February 2020