IAA Mobility 2021: A new event concept for a new automotive age

01 September 2021

Next week will see the first major automotive event in Europe since the cancellation of the Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) in March 2020. The IAA takes place in Munich for the first time this year, and the biggest German motor show is undergoing more changes than just its location.

The automotive industry has changed a lot since the last IAA event in Frankfurt in 2019. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a shift in ownership patterns towards car-sharing services, while electromobility was growing in popularity. The last event saw several manufacturers choose not to exhibit, while attendance figures dropped, and halls remained empty.

Therefore, this year’s show is billed as IAA Mobility and will focus on the transformation to climate-neutral mobility as one of the most important global challenges. The shift to Munich also gives the event an opportunity to reach out to a wider audience, taking to the streets of the city and providing an element of interaction that previous versions of the event lacked.

‘Mobility is one of society’s foremost topics,’ explained VDA President Hildegard Müller. ‘The IAA Mobility is taking place because people all over the world are seeking better solutions to their mobility needs and the companies have developed many new solutions to meet them, which they wish to present on an international stage. The main focus will be solutions on the path to climate neutrality. The fact that the IAA Mobility is being held under the current COVID-19 rules is itself a great success for the event.’

More than 1,000 exhibitors and speakers will present their latest innovations and concepts. Almost 700 exhibitors will be represented, including automobile brands, bicycle brands, important players in the tech sector and all the major companies in the supply industry. The IAA will host over 100 world premieres. The new concept for the IAA Mobility is so attractive that over 70 brands from the bicycle sector have already registered to participate in its first year.

This year’s show is likely to be slightly pared back from original plans, with travel restrictions and social-distancing measures meaning some international exhibitors and visitors cannot attend in person. The show will be the biggest event to take place in Germany since lockdown restrictions were lifted in the country.

Event format

The IAA Mobility show will feature multiple arenas, including a digital platform for those unable to attend. It will also take in areas of the city itself, offering those present the chance to see mobility in action, rather than the static displays that were the mainstay of previous events.

In Munich’s exhibition halls, the IAA Mobility Summit is where trade visitors and experts will meet to discuss innovative mobility solutions and world-first concepts. Exhibitors and presenters include vehicle manufacturers, startups and businesses from the tech and IT industries.

The IAA Mobility Open Space is the location for presentations of innovations by leading car and bicycle makers right in the heart of the city. The event also offers visitors the chance to try out over 250 new and sustainable vehicles for themselves on site. More than 38 models from over 15 international brands can be tested on the Blue Lane, a special environmental lane set up jointly with the city of Munich and the state of Bavaria for the duration of the show.

Source: IAA Mobility

There are four stages at the IAA Mobility Conference, with over 500 international speakers scheduled from the fields of mobility and the digital industry, as well as scientists, political representatives and NGOs. All the contributions will highlight the sustainable transformation of mobility.

In addition, to appeal to consumers alongside those linked to the industry, the IAA Mobility Citizen Lab will host public discussions and workshops on topics surrounding the mobility of the future, live and in the open air on Munich’s Marienplatz. 

Finally, as a hybrid event, IAA Mobility Virtual offers all the main programme items in digital form, allowing a worldwide audience the chance to access topics surrounding mobility. This ensures that those looking to attend but unable to do so due to travel restrictions, can still take part.

‘Our aim is that the IAA Mobility should turn Munich into a global centre for the mobility of the future by means of an attractive new concept,’ added Klaus Dittrich, Chairman and CEO of Messe München and co-organiser of the IAA Mobility. ‘We are involving the entire city in this event. And enabling everybody with an interest to share in experiencing the “future of mobility.” This is unique in this form – not only in Germany but also worldwide.’

Format of the future

Much is riding on the IAA Mobility 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity for an industry ‘reset’, a chance to rethink the traditional show concept and expand it to a new audience. The event has been planning for change for some time, but the introduction of a digital element allows it to reach a wider audience and for exhibitors to expand their own reach.

For the IAA Mobility organisers, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the pressure of attendance figures away. There is likely to be a fall in visitors due to the pandemic, making this the ideal time to experiment. A fully digital show, such as that seen at CES 2021, does not work as well, as there always needs to be a ‘hands-on’ element. But opening the event to a wider audience through online channels can drive interest in future events.

As Europe slowly starts to reopen, other shows may look to follow suit. Already, the Paris Motor Show has announced it will co-locate with EquipAuto and expand its mobility offering. At the same time, the GIMS was sold to new organisers following its cancellation last year, offering the chance for a format rethink.

Vehicle highlights

In the run-up to this years’ show, a number of carmakers have announced their plans for their exhibition spaces. Both domestic and international carmakers will be in attendance, along with vehicle suppliers, technology businesses, fleet providers, and more.

Source: Volkswagen

Volkswagen (VW) is unveiling a near-production concept of its ID.5 GTX SUV. The ‘disguised concept’ is the first SUV coupé based on the Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform and wows with its elegant design, powerful dual engine, and four-wheel drive. And the ID.5 GTX is fully connected, can receive updates over-the-air, and is fitted with car-to-X technology.

The abbreviation GTX represents VW’s new naming strategy for performance electric models, continuing the GTI, GTD and GTE badges. An electric engine on both the front and rear axles offers driving performance and strong traction thanks to the four-wheel drive. The large lithium-ion battery between the axles enables a projected range of up to 497km.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is showcasing its current and future electric-mobility line-up at the IAA Mobility, from compact models to performance luxury saloons and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs). Several of these models will be making their world premiere at the show, including the EQE, the first battery-electric luxury saloon from Mercedes-AMG, and a concept vehicle that shows how Mercedes-Maybach will enter the age of electric mobility.

The EQB will be presented in Europe for the first time, while subsidiary Smart will also be there with a show car that provides an insight into the first vehicle from its new generation of all-electric models.

Source: BMW

For BMW, the IAA Mobility represents an opportunity to show its visions for tomorrow’s urban mobility with sustainability at its heart. The carmaker is to be the largest exhibitor at the event, with locations around the city playing host to various vehicles, technology, and concepts. The BMW iX and i4 will take centre stage, with the new 2-Series Coupe, 4-Series Gran Coupe, X3 and X4 also in attendance.

BMW Group is making circular economy the central theme of IAA Mobility this year. With its ‘Re:think, Re:duce, Re:use, Re:cycle’ approach, the company is revealing an all-encompassing view of how the use of primary raw materials can be dramatically reduced for the vehicles of the future.

Source: Renault Group

Renault Group will reveal its new Megane E-Tech battery-electric vehicle (BEV) at the show alongside the R5 prototype. This will happen in its new booth concept, called the Renault studiault, a versatile structure that can adapt to the different required communications formats: talk shows, video contents displayed on mobile screens, exhibition of vintage vehicles or technological demonstrators. The carmaker’s Dacia brand will show the Jogger, a new seven-seat family model.