After 69 years, the Frankfurt motor show is no more.
The Verband Der Automobilindustrie (VDA), the German auto industry association which is the organizing body of the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) or the Frankfurt motor show, announced that they will not hold the show in Frankfurt for 2021.
Citing declining attendance and perhaps with the issue of awkward politics with the mayor of Frankfurt, the VDA said:
"The ideas and concepts of the city of Frankfurt were also very impressive. But after evaluating all the relevant criteria, the IAA 2021 will no longer take place at the Frankfurt trade fair location."
The split with Frankfurt means that the VDA evaluating other options for the German motor show. Reports indicate that they are looking at three finalists: Berlin, Hamburg, or Munich; the last one would be interesting given that it's the home of BMW.
Frankfurt has hosted Germany's biggest automotive trade fair for seven decades, holding it every two years since 1951. The show itself has a history that stretches back to 1897 when 8 motor vehicles were displayed at a hotel in Berlin. The very first motor vehicle, after all, was invented by Germany's Karl Benz in 1885: the Benz Patent Motorwagen.
Frankfurt is a key location because it is the home show of the German auto industry which includes the groups led by Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.
Frankfurt is also one of the five biggest global motor shows alongside Detroit (North American International Auto Show or NAIAS), Geneva (Geneva International Motor Show or GIMS), Tokyo (Tokyo Motor Show or TMS), and Paris (Mondial Paris Motor Show). Recently though, two motor shows in China that alternate every year between Beijing (Auto China) and Shanghai (Auto Shanghai) have also been rising to the same status as premier global motor shows.
The 2019 edition of the IAA garnered just 550,000 visitors, a sharp decline for a motor show that reportedly sees about 800,000 to 900,000 visitors per hosting. Sources indicate that the decision factored in issues such as rising costs, location, and many others that spelled the demise of the show. Mercedes-Benz and BMW didn't have large displays as before. More importantly, major players in the European market were not present such as Fiat, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Citroen and Peugeot.
It is expected that the German auto show will try to reinvent itself as a mobility show in a manner similar to what JAMA (Japan's auto industry association) did for the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.
Like Frankfurt, the Tokyo Motor Show also saw a sharp decline over the years. In 2013 attendance was at 902,000, but dropped to 813,500 in 2015. In 2017, that dropped even further to 771,200. The recent Tokyo Motor Show's attendance surged by 70% to more than 1.3 million despite having a split venue. The show's resurgence was was seen as a result of organizers reinventing the show to cater more to children with a variety of activities and events.
Peter Feldman, the mayor of Frankfurt and one of the reasons reports credit for the show's departure from the city, says that they are looking at alternatives for a mobility show in the city. The Frankfurt motor show is the biggest trade fair of any kind in the city, and provides a big boost to businesses.