FRANKFURT -- Germany's biennial auto show aims to position itself as the leading trade fair for mobility in smart cities, attracting startups and stimulating social debate over transport issues.
The VDA industry association will stage the event, known by its German acronym IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung), in Munich next September after it decided to move the show to the Bavarian city from its traditional location in Frankfurt.
The revamped show will have a sharper focus on a limited number of innovative concepts that can highlight future trends.
"We already have strong commitments for the IAA so we are very confident we can attract manufacturers and suppliers from around of the world to Munich," said Hildegard Mueller, President of the German automotive industry association VDA, at a presentation of the new format on Wednesday.
With more and more consumers informing themselves online and shopping for the best prices before purchasing a car, traditional auto shows packed full of conventional models found in local dealerships no longer offer the same value.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has hastened their decline because indoor gatherings attended by thousands of managers, journalists, and potential customers prove a major health risk.
The VDA, which represents automakers and suppliers with operations in Germany, aims to breathe new life into the fading format with a radically new concept.
The association wants to give the show the same event-like character found in popular tech shows such as the Web Summit, while attracting the same kind of well-known speakers and leading minds that attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"Trade fairs are undergoing a transformation. In a digital world where you can interact with customers 24 hours a day wherever they happen to be, platforms lasting 13 days are obsolete," said VDA managing director Martin Koers.
The IAA in Munich will host a "Summit" at the city's trade fair grounds that invites professionals from the industry, academics, politicians for panel debates and presentations.
Organizers hope to attract innovators from places such as China's bustling tech metropolis of Shenzhen and the coastal area around Tel Aviv called as Silicon Wadi after Silicon Valley, luring them to Munich with the opportunity to discuss future trends, network and gather ideas.
"The Summit must be the Davos for mobility, where the who's who meet each other," Koers said. "That's why the Summit is not meant to be the largest auto dealership in the world where the complete model range is on display, rather the latest in technological ideas can be found."
Traditional automaker stands with 100,000 square meters are no longer welcome. Instead the VDA wants a more compact, reduced presence without the need to traverse long distances across the fair grounds.
Consumers will be able to inform themselves of the latest trends in various parts of Munich under the rubrik "Open Space" where artwork, entertainment and food can be enjoyed as well.
Finally, a type of proving ground called the "Blue Lane" will connect the two locations via the A94 highway and give both target groups the chance to experience the latest trends in low-emissions mobility.
Whereas before the first few days of the show were meant for professionals before consumers then were allowed to attend, Koers said the new format was expressly designed in such a way that events for both would be held parallel during the entire week from Tuesday, Sept. 7 to the following Sunday, Sept 12.
"We believe we have the most modern concept present whether it regards the presentation by the automakers, the involvement of the public or when it comes to protecting public health," Mueller said.