The 2021 Frankfurt Auto Show? It’s Now in Munich

By Paul Riegler on 7 September 2021
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The show floor of the 2021 IAA Mobility in Munich

Things were different at the biennial Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, aka the Frankfurt Auto Show, this year.  For one thing, the IAA is now known as IAA Mobility.  It’s also not just about cars anymore, but covers everything from bikes to e-scooters to automobiles.  Oh, and it’s no longer in Frankfurt but rather in Munich. 

In short, this is not your father’s IAA.

The show is the automotive industry’s first international event since the start of the pandemic and carries the theme, “Mobility of the Future.”

The show opened on Tuesday to the public with an address by German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel, who praised the industry’s efforts for a climate-neutral future.

“Climate-friendly engines, the digital connectivity of transport – that’s what this fair is about,” said Hildegard Müller, president of the Verband der Automobilindustrie, Germany’s auto industry association, which organizes the show, at a pre-event press conference last week. “The goal of climate protection is guiding us.”

Even with a new venue, this show was different.  Multiple major automakers – including Toyota, Stellantis (including its German brand, Opel), Land Rover, and Ferrari, decided not to participate.

Nonetheless, German carmakers including Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW’s Mini brand were all there with their glitzy display areas.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E was present as the sole U.S. representative, as were Renault, its Romanian subsidiary, Dacia, Volvo subsidiary Polestar, and several Chinese automakers.

In what was likely an IAA first, an impressive range of top-tier bicycle manufacturers was exhibiting as well, as were automotive suppliers such as Bosch and Magna.

Also present were climate change protestors who want to see a speedier end to the sale of petrol- and diesel-powered automobiles, although they were not present in the numbers seen in 2019, when thousands descended onto the streets of Frankfurt to protest the role of the car industry in climate change.  Unlike in 2019, when protestors smashed at least 40 new vehicles at new-car dealerships in Frankfurt, no cars were deliberately damaged and, to ensure this at the IAA, police were out in force.

Nonetheless, there were many dozens of new cars to look at, including the BMW i Vision Circular Concept, a look at what a BMW might look like in the year 2040; the Mercedes EQB Electric SUV, a fully electrified version of the current GLB-Klasse crossover; the Volkswagen ID.Life Crossover concept, which projects a possible subcompact crossover smaller than the existing ID.4 crossover and the ID.3. hatchback; and the Mini Vision Urbanaut, a rounded-off minivan with sofa-like seating.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)