The 68th International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt convened more cyclists than international exhibitors. There are indications that this might be the last edition of an event about a complex and decrepit industry yet still too important for the current economies.
Recent events highlight a negative public opinion towards one of Germany's most popular car shows. A recent car accident in Berlin caused the death of four pedestrians and led to mass protests against SUVs only days before the fair. In addition to the unsolved emissions scandal at Volkswagen comes now the unease about the inaugural address by the mayor of Frankfurt. The organizers of the fair canceled the invitation to the mayor of Frankfurt in response to his critical statements he planned for his inaugural address and his support for protesters around the fair. His speech at the IAA is tradition, same as is the inaugural speech by the German Chancellor. Although Angela Merkel highlighted the contradiction between selling more vehicles and pretending to reduce emissions, she had a speech more in line with the interests of the automobile industry.
Admissions to the International Motor Show were blocked on Sunday by climate activists of the anti-automotive protest group ‘Sand im Getriebe’. Most of the new electric vehicles – ubiquitous at this fair and some designed by manufacturers from other industries, such as appliances or software – no longer fascinate, nor satisfy the demands for radical changes in traffic, logistics and the production and supply chain of resources.
Still the IAA is the place to show the tradition and innovation in automobile technology and delivers also new concepts in mobility to a general audience. Hybrid and electric vehicles are about to set the new standard in urban transport as well. Autonomous driving and expendable multipurpose public vehicles are also well represented at this International Motor Show. The car as a robot on wheels with speech interface, sensors and attachable gardening tools as a vision in line of the concept of the fully integrated Smart City. State of the art solutions requires now better on-board software, faster mobile network standards and optimized interfaces for enhanced image recognition and 3D real-time mapping. Artificial Intelligence is the current buzzword and the image processing approaches lead from human aided machine learning by improving algorithms through training on thousands of traffic images to an approach that combine different and simultaneous processing of existing maps, static 3D elements, signals and signs and different categories of moving objects.
Though the Frankfurt Fair might lose one of its biggest and attractive events for the general public and final consumers, the fair still holds its automobile industry and machine engineering main events, namely automechanika and formnext. Both fairs are focused on parts, prototyping and supply chains and take place in September and November.