The IAA Interview

VDA President Bernhard Mattes speaks about the evolution of the IAA, absent and first-time exhibitors, and his personal highlights.

Mr. Mattes, in just a few days the IAA 2019 will open its doors in Frankfurt. Its slogan is “Driving tomorrow” – what can visitors expect?

Bernhard Mattes: The entire automotive industry is changing, and with it the IAA. Under the slogan “Driving tomorrow” the automotive global players are meeting at this year’s IAA – providers of new mobility solutions, innovative hi-tech companies and startups. The IAA is becoming more interactive, more connected and more digital. It is hosting multidisciplinary presentations and discussions of the trends and topics.

Where do you see the fascination of the IAA?

Bernhard Mattes: This IAA showcases the huge transformation in the whole sector. We are moving towards CO2-neutral mobility. Cars are becoming more digital, connected and automated. Sharing models offer new solutions for sustainable urban mobility. Then there are the many world premieres – and the IAA Conference with prominent international speakers. The IAA Experience and the IAA Career complete the very attractive program. We are really looking forward to the IAA. It will set new standards and drive forward the broad social discourse on the mobility of the future.

And which highlights do you recommend?

Bernhard Mattes: Of course I am very keen to see the latest models that will be unveiled at the IAA, especially the new e-vehicles. Apart from that, I am looking forward to the test drives on the west open-air site, where the latest mobility trends can be experienced first-hand. Another highlight will be the IAA Conference with a large number of top-level speakers including Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler, Nico Rosberg, Formula 1 world champion and co-founder of Greentech, Mark D'Arcy, Vice President of Facebook, and Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of Microsoft Cloud. They and many other high-ranking personalities will discuss the mobility of the future at the IAA.

Trailer for the IAA 2019

What has changed about the IAA concept?

Bernhard Mattes: The IAA 2019 introduces new formats with new experiences: the IAA Conference, where pioneers and experts from the mobility industry will meet for a dialog on the future, the IAA Exhibition with numerous world premieres, the IAA Experience with a wide range of different experiences, and the IAA Career directed at students, career entrants and professionals. Our aim at the IAA is to make mobility something to be experienced with all the senses: visitors can see, feel, experience and discuss mobility. Furthermore, the IAA always reflects what is happening in the automotive industry. The companies – from manufacturers to digital mobility providers – are expanding their existing business models, and we are supporting this transformation process. What is more, new players and IT firms such as Facebook, Microsoft, SAP and Vodafone will have an increasing role in future forms of mobility. This transformation can also be seen in the evolution of the international trade show landscape. We regard the IAA as a multidisciplinary platform for the mobility of the future.

What significance and future does the IAA have, if some renowned European and Asian OEMs are staying away again – and are obviously not intending to return?

The entire sector is developing, including the IAA. Our aim is to make the IAA so attractive that participation will not even be questioned. For this reason, too, we are shifting the spotlight onto the relevance of the IAA instead of its physical size. The IAA is not the largest car showroom, but it is the most relevant and the one with the most variety in the world. Here we present and discuss topics surrounding future mobility – an interdisciplinary approach with many players, including critical voices. The ecosystem of the automotive industry is currently undergoing radical change.

The IAA is a reflection of this ecosystem and must therefore also change. So new players such as hi-tech companies and startups are also present in Frankfurt. Digitization offers many opportunities for virtual technology. This is also reflected in how the exhibitors plan their stands. That is a challenge for every trade show organizer – and we, the VDA, are taking a very proactive approach! We see here great opportunities for the IAA. We have many new ideas for continuing the IAA’s consistent development!

What answers exist to the most urgent questions about mobility, such as air pollution in major cities, diesel bans, gridlock on the freeways and the search for viable forms of propulsion?

The desire for individual mobility is a fundamental human need. Mobility is hugely important in our globalized society. For this reason, new traffic concepts and powertrains must take account of the developments in a rapidly changing world. Today people want to be more mobile than ever before. And this mobility must be efficient and environmentally friendly, flexible and very safe. Mobility behavior is changing. It is not restricted to owning a car, as more and more people decide to use a vehicle only as the need arises.

We have also placed this trend on our agenda. Our manufacturers are among the market leaders when it comes to schemes for sharing. Worldwide, however, many people still want to own a car. The global passenger car market will continue to grow in the medium term. We are therefore working all the more intensively on our goal of zero emissions. Digitization and alternative powertrains are pointing the way. Everyone who is interested in mobility and cars is therefore warmly invited to join us for novel experiences in Frankfurt and to become part of the new solutions.