IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla
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Monday at the IAA Mobility is always the press day. Rumor has it that more than 80 press conferences were held on this day. In other words, for media representatives, the IAA is a real task on the first day.

Germany – the announcements world champion

The German premium OEMs Mercedes-Benz and BMW have made it easy for themselves on the show floor this time. BMW shows on a small, modest booth without much frippery the current portfolio, including a recycled BMW i Vision Dee, which is sold as a study for the NEW CLASS. The real NEW CLASS will initially be another boring and chunky eSUV, but it is not represented. BMW CEO Oliver Zipse even goes so far as to question the 2035 combustion engine phase-out during a speech. Mercedes-Benz again brings science fiction into play, showing the Vision One-Eleven, a finger exercise by the designers. Of course, there is also something for the affluent “Ottonormalverbraucher”, the Concept CLA – but it is in the “Open Spaces” in the city center – more on that later.

IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla
IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla

VW shows an ID GTI, which looks like a combustion GTI, but of course, will be based on the MEB platform of the next generation. If the GTI becomes anything, it will take until the end of 2026, the price of under 30,000 euros sounds nice, but it will be hard to keep. In addition, “openness to technology” is presented by showcasing e-fuels more prominently together with Porsche and SIEMENS.

Fewer halls

While the IAA MOBILITY started two years ago as an interesting, albeit controversial alternative to the Frankfurt IAA, this year’s IAA has degenerated into a regional fair, at least on the exhibition grounds. Indeed, the highlights would be lacking were it not for the vehemence of some Chinese suppliers.

IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla

The China offensive

It is no secret that China wants to expand overseas, come hell or high water. “Overseas” in this context means Europe and North America. The chances are good. The European OEMs, especially the German ones, still underestimate the Chinese. Fun Fact: VW is seeking technical support from XPeng, Audi from SAIC.

This is no wonder because so far, the Chinese “attempts to conquer” have not made any real progress – at least so it seems. In fact, every 5th car is already a Chinese car. People forget that POLESTAR, Volvo, and Smart are now running off Chinese assembly lines. The most successful Chinese supplier currently is MG Roewe, which was also shown at the IAA. There, on a tiny stand, one could admire the MG Cyberster, an electric roadster in the tradition of Mazda’s MX5 or BMW’s Z3. There, at least, the “joy of driving” is bashfully shown.

IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla
IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla

BYD is not spilling the beans; it’s making a splash. The second largest electric car manufacturer after Tesla showed its latest models on a gigantic and surrounding stand. The small Seagull for the masses and the SEAL as antithesis to the just refreshed Tesla Model 3 Highland. BYD, of course, is also present in the “Open Spaces”.

Batteries and Micromobility

Many battery companies, mainly from China, used the location to make new announcements (LG, CATL), or to present their portfolio. For example, EVE Battery. The piquant thing: EVE manufactures the 46XX round cells for BMW’s NEW CLASS, suspiciously reminiscent of Tesla’s 4680 cells. Logically, the EVE booth was located within sight of the BMW booth.

Micromobility is rising – at least as measured by vendors and exhibitors. This includes not only scooters and eBikes but also small vehicles in the L7e classes. There is now a choice between premium vehicles such as the €21,000 Microlino (Switzerland) or affordable minis such as the Silence E04 (Spain).

IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla
IAA © Bernd Maier-Leppla

Will this catch on in Germany? I don’t think so, because the Minis are very expensive and only appeal to urban hipsters. For the long haul, the vehicles are all unsuitable.

“Folk festival” in the city center

The fact that the German OEMs are relatively restrained at the actual trade show is due to the “IAA MOBILITY Open Spaces”. In the center of Munich, Audi, Porsche, VW, BMW, Mercedes & Co. are showing off in a completely different way. They present themselves with huge exhibition buildings (Mercedes) and fairground-like stands (BMW). VW, like the other brands from the group, remains classic. What is on offer? Temporary “car dealerships” for the public, because no admission is charged in the “Open Spaces”.

BMW-Stand IAA. München © Bernd Maier-Leppla

What remains?

If the Chinese had not been at the show, the IAA would have been an extremely dull event. You can read the words “sustainability” and “small carbon footprint” everywhere, but driving pleasure looks different.

Ah yes. The internal combustion engines seem to have been de-registered on the exhibition grounds. Although sports cars are standing around bashfully here and there, the age actually seems to be coming to an end. At the BOYSEN booth, where a colossal exhaust display could be seen, it was literally “dead air” on Monday morning.