Displaced IAA auto show to open with climate concern, Covid woe
IAA is one of the largest automobile shows in the world, historically held in Frankfurt. This is the first time, the auto show is being held in Munich. The biennial auto show was marred by environmental protests, poor visitor numbers and several missing automobile brands in 2019. This time too, the auto show is opening under the cloud of climate concerns and Covid-19 pandemic woes.
Interestingly, the car show has reinvented itself as a mobility fair with the spotlights on electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles etc. Electric cars, scooters, even bicycles have found their special spot at the show.
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The one-week-long fair is going to be the biggest exhibition in Germany since the beginning of the pandemic. Right after the country coming out of the pandemic's fourth wave, the show organisers are taking several measures to reduce infection risk. The daily visitor numbers have been capped at 80,000 and guests have to show proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test before entering the venue.
However, despite the high expectations, this time too several automobile brands are skipping the show. The key brands among these include Stellantis. This means the show will not see a presence from Peugeot, Fiat, Chrysler, Citroen etc. World's second-largest car brand Toyota and largest electric car maker Tesla too will give the show a miss.
Electric vehicles are expected to dominate the exhibits by the various automakers. For example, Volkswagen will debut its plug-in hybrid T7 multi-van. Audi will showcase a fully electric sedan with semi-autonomous driving systems.
Mercedes-Benz will launch a battery-powered luxury Maybach concept car at the event. The group's Smart brand will showcase a small electric SUV as well.
BMW too plans to showcase a hydrogen-powered SUV, as well as its vision for a fully recyclable electric car that will be made entirely from recycled material and renewable resources.
This year, more than 70 bicycle exhibitors are likely to showcase their products. Among them, the majority would be electric bicycles.
Once known as the "car chancellor" for her efforts to shield German carmakers from tougher EU pollution rules, German Chancellor Angella Merkel will give a speech on Tuesday when the fair opens to trade visitors. She is likely to touch on the issues like auto industry's costly transition towards greener engines.
Meanwhile, the climate activists have vowed again to disrupt the IAA with protests on Friday and Saturday, just like the 2019 event.
Greenpeace and Germany's DUH environmental group on Friday have threatened to file lawsuits against Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler if they do not speed up efforts to reduce tailpipe emissions. They want the German car manufacturers to stop producing petrol and diesel cars by 2030.