IAA final press conference on September 20, 2019, 12.00 h, CMF – Statement delivered by VDA President Bernhard Mattes
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome you most warmly to our final IAA press conference.
In the digital age, what counts is no longer solely the number of square meters covered, but relevance. At the IAA we are showing the world how we are struggling for and constructively debating the topics of the mobility of the future. Here we are demonstrating how our inventive and pioneering spirit can resolve the challenges of the future.
In fact on social media, the IAA has attained new dimensions that even optimists at the VDA would not have thought possible:
This IAA has taken place against a very unusual social and political backdrop. Several weeks ago, various NGOs had already announced demonstrations on the first Saturday of the IAA, and on the first Sunday other critical groups critical of cars planned a blockade of the IAA.
We paid attention to this at an early stage and offered the NGOs a dialog – which almost all of them accepted, with the panel discussion in Berlin on September 5, and with the citizens’ dialog here in Frankfurt on September 13. Furthermore, all the topics surrounding the mobility of the future were covered at the IAA Conference with over 200 high-ranking speakers – including critical voices.
Today we can see that this approach has been confirmed as correct. It is always better to talk with one another instead of about one another. We wish to continue this format.
And the fact that on the weekend over 110,000 visitors came to the IAA – despite the demo and the blockade – speaks for itself.
On Sunday 500 people protested in front of the IAA’s gates – while at the IAA itself 50,000 visitors were in a good mood, including many families with children, mobility fans.
For us it is equally important that the situation stayed peaceful, and that the safety of the IAA visitors and everyone else was maintained at all times.
Today, therefore, my special thanks go to the police and the security services. They showed huge commitment, great care and moderation while ensuring that the first public weekend of the IAA went off peacefully and the visitors were able to come to the IAA.
The great social and political topics at this IAA are climate protection and individual sustainable mobility. For us these topics are not opposites, but are two sides of the same coin. We stand by the Paris climate protection goals, and we want to achieve the ambitious EU targets for 2030. But we are convinced that this will be possible only with modern cars, and not by doing without cars. This sets us apart from those who simply want to ban cars or abolish them altogether.
We also see this reflected in our visitor surveys: visitor interest is focused on electric mobility. Our exhibitors are especially impressed by how well informed the IAA visitors are – particularly about electric vehicles – and how specific their questions are. Other highlights for the visitors were of course the high-performance cars.
The attacks on cars during recent weeks, and in particular on SUVs, are signs of an overheated discussion. Yesterday one of Germany’s major daily newspapers rightly said, “We need a more sober debate.” In my view it doesn’t make any sense “to put pressure on the branch of industry with the biggest turnover, with an almost religious fervor,” as the newspaper wrote.
Germany is an industrial country, it was always an automotive country, and this is where the car was invented. We are proud of that. And here we are continuing to develop cars as an integral part of an overall solution for mobility. People want to be mobile. The point is not abolishing individual mobility, but increasing sustainability, with lower emissions through innovation. And this includes cars – connected cars with zero-emissions.
Those who unjustifiably wanted to label the IAA in advance as a forum for “larger cars, bigger engines and higher consumption,” should actually get an idea of this mobility platform: no other IAA has ever showcased more electric mobility available in series.
We will not solve our tasks by banning vehicles, but with innovative products that set new standards for emissions.
For the visitors, the IAA is most of all a huge world of experiences. On every morning of the show, the test drives were fully booked for the rest of the day despite the greater numbers of vehicles available, and long lines formed for the off-road circuit on the Agora and the autonomous shuttle bus. The E-Move track also consistently drew large numbers of visitors. The IAA Heritage by Motorworld has become a new favorite, its aisles lined with fans of all ages. Tens of thousands of visitors were therefore able to have the “IAA Experience” using all the senses.
This IAA is more political than any of its predecessors. More politicians than ever took part in discussions, including the IAA Conference. Over 100 politicians from Germany and abroad registered for walking tours of the trade fair.
I would like to name just a few of our guests. We welcomed Arvind Sawant, India’s Minister of Heavy Industries, two delegations from the US embassy, Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, and Dr. Marius Skuodis, Lithuanian Vice Minister of the Economy. Furthermore, over a dozen members of the European Parliament visited the show, including Daniel Caspary MEP (EPP/DEU), chairman of the German CDU/CSU group, Jens Geier MEP, chairman of the SPD group in the S & D parliamentary group, and Svenja Hahn MEP (ALDE/DEU), plus a group of European Commission officials.
The guest list at federal level is also impressive: Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer and numerous members of the German Bundestag including Christian Lindner, FDP party chairman and chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Robert Habeck, party chairman of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Anton Hofreiter, chairman of the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen parliamentary group, and a large number of other Bundestag members.
From the federal states, we welcomed Tobias Hans, State Premier of the Saarland, Volker Bouffier, State Premier of Hesse, Boris Rhein, President of the Hessian state parliament, Volker Wissing, Rhineland-Palatinate’s Deputy State Premier and Minister of Economic Affairs, Transport, Agriculture and Viniculture, and Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessian Minister of Economy, Energy, Transport and Housing, along with Anke Rehlinger, Saarland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Reinhold Hilbers, Lower Saxony’s Minister of Finance, Axel Wintermeyer, Minister of State and Head of the Hessian State Chancellery, and numerous state secretaries and members of federal state parliaments.
But it wasn’t all political celebrities. Our visitors also included Joachim Löw, coach of the German national football team, Jürgen Klopp, coach of FC Liverpool and a former player in the German national team, and Oliver Bierhoff, manager of the German Football Association and also a former player in the German national team. The German hip-hop group “Die Fantastischen Vier” also put in an appearance.
This means the IAA has proven even more that it is the international platform for the mobility of the future. All the key topics – electric mobility, climate protection, digitization, urban mobility and many more – are displayed here on a scale and discussed in a depth that are unmatched on the international stage.
We had expected that this IAA, with fewer exhibiting brands, would have fewer visitors than in 2017. And then we had the first IAA weekend, which made it anything but easy for visitors to come to the IAA.
Yet we are very satisfied with the public interest. The development during the second week is proving to be very stable. And I suspect that on the second IAA weekend we will see visitor numbers picking up again.
Who comes to the IAA?
Here are some results from the visitor survey:
What reasons do people have for visiting the IAA?
The most strongly frequented sections of the show are electric mobility (34 percent), sports cars (33 percent) and classic cars (29 percent).
We still have two and a half exhibition days to go. However, based on our many years of experience we are assuming that by Sunday evening the number of visitors will increase to well over half a million.
That is impressive evidence that ordinary people are still very interested in automobiles, in sustainable individual mobility. The IAA has shown that it remains attractive in the face of adverse conditions.
Now we will look forward:
Under the slogan “Driving tomorrow,” the IAA 2019 in Frankfurt am Main presents itself as the international platform for mobility on a scale and in a variety that are unprecedented.
The transformation of the whole sector is also changing the IAA. We are pursuing even more intensively interactive formats that encourage dialog and enhance genuine experiences. And we will have an even greater digital presence – that is, on social media.
Furthermore, we will use the momentum from the social debate. We will continue to expand the IAA as a discussion platform involving experts and critics alike. Where else should that happen, if not here?
The contract with Messe Frankfurt runs up to and including the IAA 2019. Together with our members – the manufacturers and suppliers – we will develop a new concept for the IAA 2021. Today we are limiting ourselves to the trade show grounds, but tomorrow we want to take new mobility to the citizens on a wider scale. We are currently holding an intensive dialog on this challenge and this task.
The IAA will continue to expand its strengths – the entire value chain, the world of experiences, the premieres and the international conference program.
This is because in the future the IAA will continue to be the most relevant international platform for the drive for innovation throughout the automotive industry. It offers the visitors hands-on individual sustainable mobility – and in 2021 it will again throw open the window on the mobility of tomorrow.
You will be in for a surprise!