Organizers of Germany’s top auto show, the IAA, plan to stage digital and real-world activities as the event continues to struggle to attract foreign automakers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
German automakers Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler will take part in the show, which takes place in Munich from Sept. 7 to Sept. 12.
Frankfurt was the IAA’s host city for almost 70 years but the VDA has picked Munich for this year’s event.
So far only a handful of non-German automakers, including Ford, Hyundai and Chinese brands, have said they will be present. Other major car companies including Toyota, Renault and Stellantis, which includes PSA Group and its Germany-based Opel brand as well as Fiat Chrysler, have not committed to being present.
This means that time is running out to make the show a truly international event with global appeal.
Organizers will place more emphasis on digital activities in case travel is still disrupted in September by measures to control the coronavirus.
“We are planning it as a hybrid event — part digital, part physical with appropriate hygiene concepts,” said Tobias Groeber, of Messe Muenchen, which operates Munich’s trade fair grounds at Riem, where the show will be held.
Germany’s auto association, the VDA, which organizes the show, believes a hybrid event could have advantages.
Virtual events will increase the show’s reach and “make it more attractive for exhibitors and visitors,” said the VDA’s head of communications, Lutz Meyer. Automakers will have the opportunity to send marketing messages to their target groups via text, images and video on various digital channels, Meyer said.
Among confirmed attendees are Volvo’s new Polestar EV brand, although Volvo itself will skip the event, and Chinese brands Nio, SAIC, Great Wall’s Wey and Xpeng.
Suppliers Robert Bosch, Continental, Faurecia and ZF Friedrichshafen are also among companies taking part.
This year’s IAA will broaden its focus beyond cars to cover forms of individual mobility, including so-called “holistic mobility” where all road users are networked.
The World Cycling Forum is a partner and several well-known bicycle manufacturers have confirmed their attendance.