Frankfurt’s IAA motor show is back in town along with more than 1,100 exhibitors from 39 countries. This year’s spectacle will include 210 world premieres, but driverless cars will steal the show.
The event organizers may have opted for the much more conservative catchphrase “mobility connects”, but the message is the same: The future of driving will be hands-free.
BMW will be showcasing its remote control parking system on its new 7 series. It comes with a display key that allows drivers to park their cars without anyone at the wheel. Google is also expected to talk about its driverless car program.
A survey of 100 automotive company managers by Germany’s information technology association Bitkom shows that two-thirds of the respondents expect driverless cars to be ubiquitous by 2030.
As cars keep moving along the road towards becoming mobile internet platforms, the question forming in every IAA visitor’s mind is: Will digital technology companies like Google or Apple leave traditional automakers in the dust?
We’re in SUV heaven
But the IAA isn’t just about racing into the future – 210 new here-and-now models are set to be launched at the fair. Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are expected to loom especially large. Luxury automakers like Bentley and Jaguar are set to unveil their new offerings in this segment – the Bentayga and the F-Pace SUV respectively.
Lamborghini, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group’s Audi division, is hot on their heels. It has signed a deal to produce a luxury SUV dubbed the Urus in Italy. It’s expected to enter the market in 2018.
At a time of falling sports car sales, SUVs have become the new way to convey status on the road, analysts say.
Still, aficionados of fast, low-slung sports cars will be able to get their buzz on as well at this year’s IAA. Rolls-Royce is releasing its new Dawn four-seat convertible. Ferrari and Lamborghini are also expected to roll out convertible models – the V8 Ferrari 488 Spider and the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder. Andalé!
Even bigger than last year
In total, the IAA will showcase 210 new car models – a third more than last year. Of those, 30 will be new German automobile models and 26 others will be from elsewhere in Europe.
A total of 1,103 exhibitors from 39 different countries will be taking part, with their wares spread across 230,000 square meters of exhibition space – the equivalent of 33 football pitches, according to the fair’s organizers, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
Which markets will see the biggest sales of these fancy new cars remains to be seen. But the IAA is being held amidst a shift in global demand: US and European automobile sales show robust growth, while China’s demand for pricey jalopies is slackening as the world’s No. 2 economy cools down.
A lively topic of discussion amongst experts at the trade fair is expected to be the question of how trends on the demand side will affect the supply side – what will get built, and where.
This year’s IAA – the 66th – will open to the press on Sept. 15 and 16, before officially being opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sept. 17. The fair’s “trade days” for industry insiders will be Sept. 17 and 18. After that, it will be open to the public for more than a week, from Sept. 19 to Sept. 27.