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Frankfurt Auto Show, world’s largest, transforms into more inclusive 2021 IAA Mobility show in Munich

In a sign of the times and our changing world, the IAA (International Motor Show Germany), which was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will return in 2021 as IAA Mobility with a new and broader focus on all forms of mobility. It will also be moving from its decades-long home in Frankfurt to a new location in Munich.

Electrek sat down for an interview with three members of the team to learn more about the radical shift awaiting the world’s largest automotive show.

We spoke with Tobias Groeber (head of consumer goods at Munich Tradefairs) and Sebastian Dietz (ISPO and IAA category manager bike).

As Tobias explained, the decision started due to the changing reality of how trade shows fit into today’s information supply chain:

What’s happening at the moment, and this started many years ago, is that trade shows lost their information monopoly, especially since information is everywhere at any time, and the problem today is that there is too much information and people don’t know if it is relevant anymore.

According to Tobias, the IAA had begun to rethink its model as well. While in the past they had thought in terms of square meters and massive booths sold to the largest automotive companies, their goal now is refocusing on democratizing the sharing of information and creating connections between individuals — a more personal and direct method of relaying information.

That has led to some more immediate changes, such as limiting booth sizes so that large companies can’t dominate over smaller startups, as well as featuring a new and prominent startup area to ensure that recent innovations from smaller companies can share in the spotlight to reach the public.

But perhaps the biggest change of the show is the broadening of its focus from just cars to all forms of mobility.

It will now include micromobility (bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, e-mopeds, etc.), charging systems, public transport, infrastructure, software, urban air mobility, and other industries related to moving people around.

Tobias described this as “a shift including all mobility players and stakeholders. The car industry in our concept is still an important player as they are a part of the solution. But they are not the only solution, and this is something that we felt we need to push, and something we need to activate. And this new concept was so great that an overwhelming majority of the members supported it.”

Another goal of the new IAA Mobility concept is to not only address inclusivity in terms of products, but also in terms of addressing topics in the mobility industry that touch on many environmental and societal issues.

Tobias Groeber

Tobias continued:

It’s also about recent trends, about society. It’s an inclusive platform that is also open to those who were protesting in front of the trade show venue, giving them a space and the stage for their topics as well because I think the main message is that it’s not ‘either/or,’ but ‘and.’

That’s a direct reference to the environmental protesters that have shown up in increasing numbers and force over the years to demonstrate in front of the world’s largest auto show and address their legitimate concerns about the auto industry’s impact on the environment.

The event in its new home of Munich will also take place across multiple venues including urban space and open areas to facilitate demonstrations of different types of products as well as more interaction and dialogue with the public.

The multiple locations are connected by a Blue Lane road, which will be a new and experimental roadway set up for use by zero- and low-emission vehicles as well as to serve as a bicycle highway.

It is not exclusive to the IAA Mobility show, but will also serve as a transportation avenue for all zero- and low-emission vehicles for the public.

E-bikes will be a big part of the IAA Mobility, as Sebastian explained:

We are building up the cycling segment right now. We are in contact with all of the big brands, not only the complete e-bike brands, but also the component brands. In general, the IAA Mobility will have a very strong hard goods focus, so we’re not talking to apparel brands, for example. During IAA Mobility we really want to focus on the hard goods. Especially the visitors at the Summit, but also in the open space areas we want people to be able to test and experience the products.

While the new 2021 IAA Mobility will likely be barely recognizable compared to the traditional IAA automotive show of years past, it will likely better reflect the changing realities of the way we receive information and the way we move around cities.

While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transportation shift we’ve already seen occurring over the past few years, it also changed the way we communicate. And IAA Mobility will embrace digital communication as well so that anyone around the world can take part in the show from the comfort and safety of their home. The event will provide digital options for nearly every aspect of the show, making this this the most global and accessible IAA in history.

There’s still a lot of time left between now and September 2021, and we’ll be sure to bring you updates about the upcoming show as we receive them.

Until then, let’s hear what you have to say about the IAA Mobility 2021 show in the comment section below!

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power and the Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide.

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