Frankfurt / Main (AP) - The IAA Motor Show is facing a slump in visitor numbers this year before an uncertain future.
"We are currently working on the concept for the years 2021 following," said the President of the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), Bernhard Mattes, on Friday in Frankfurt. "We are also in discussion with Messe Frankfurt, but we have not yet made a location decision."
A new trade fair concept with changing venues will be discussed. "We have to move in the direction of the turn of the year: That's what it's supposed to look like," said Mattes, who announced his retirement as VDA president at the end of the year.
Until the conclusion of this year's International Motor Show (IAA) on Sunday evening (22.9.), The VDA expects "significantly more than half a million" visitors. The previous edition of 2017 counted 810,000 visitors. "We had expected that this IAA with fewer exhibiting automobile brands would show fewer visitors than in 2017," said Mattes. Important manufacturers from Japan, the USA, France and Italy were missing.
As never before, climate activists and environmentalists have used the IAA as a platform for criticizing the automotive industry. Thousands of people protested for car-free cities, free public transport and the development of bicycle paths.
In addition, the debate was fueled by an accident with a sports SUV in the first week of September, in which four pedestrians were killed in Berlin. Car opponents demand from the industry not only the development of more pure electric cars, but also lighter and smaller cars.
"The attacks that have been ridden in recent weeks against the car and especially against the SUV, are signs of overheated discussion," said Mattes. The industry is concerned with achieving both: climate protection and individual mobility.
The difficult change from climate-damaging burners to mass-suitable electromobility dominated because of this year's IAA. Many exhibitors presented new drive concepts and techniques to reduce the emissions of the climate-damaging greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).
The industry with more than 800,000 direct employees in Germany is under pressure. It is also unclear who will lead the influential lobby association VDA in the future. It is clear: For the former Ford Germany boss Mattes it was the last IAA as VDA president.
A few hours after the official opening of this year's fair alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) on September 12, Mattes had announced his withdrawal to the end of the year. Reason should have been criticism of his administration of the manufacturer. Mattes has been VDA President since March 2018. As a possible successor, EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger was mentioned in media reports.
In the run-up to the opening ceremony, there had also been trouble for the role of Frankfurt Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD): Unlike in previous years, the OB was not intended as a speaker. Feldmann published his speech text, which was peppered with criticism of the car industry, but after all. Mattes emphasized that VDA's offer to Feldmann continued: "We are not afraid of criticism."
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