Will automakers and suppliers find an alternative to the traditional motor show?

Will automakers and suppliers find an alternative to the traditional 'motor show'?

Will this be the last Frankfurt as we know it? That was the question being posed in Germany as the latest IAA opened minus a number of global automaker players that once would not have given Europe's premier show a miss.

The show's future in its current form is reportedly being questioned by traditional vehicle manufacturer participants - many of whom reduced their IAA spending budgets this year or chose not to attend at all. A report in German newspaper Handelsblatt suggested there was considerable criticism from manufacturers of both the format and venue for Europe's biggest car show. The report also said that the show's future would be discussed by organiser VDA and representatives of vehicle manufacturers at a meeting this week.

According to Handelsblatt, the number of IAA exhibitors fell this year by 20% to around 800 and exhibition space decreased by 16% to 168,000 square meters. Many vehicle manufacturers are slashing car show marketing budgets and preferring to create their own events instead. There are also suggestions that the format of the event with the traditional exhibition stand is increasingly outdated, with future mobility trends and advanced technologies becoming increasingly more important than the car models themselves.

Anyhoo, we produced our usual list of what was launched by those who did attend. The media preview days brought a few surprises. Volkswagen (a camouflaged and altered I.D. Crozz which will be called ID.4), Hyundai (i30 N Project C), FAW (Hongqi S9 & E115 prototypes) and BMW (i Hydrogen Next, and the Concept 4: yes, the one with THAT grille) were among the OEMs showing unheralded vehicles.

As usual, we also bundled all our Frankfurt coverage into one place here.

One of the most anticipated vehicles to make its debut - finally - in Germany was Land Rover's long awaited Defender replacement, to be built in Slovakia, not Solihull, and generally well received. Details were leaked ahead of the show, as an extract from a South African magazine made it on to Twitter. Some commentators likened the new car to an updated Honda Element but most comments were favourable. Gerry McGovern, LR's chief design officer, said: "The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it. This is a new Defender for a New Age. Its unique personality is accentuated by its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, which make it both highly desirable and seriously capable – a visually compelling 4x4 that wears its design and engineering integrity with uncompromised commitment".

VW launched the first of its electric ID range and revealed purchase prices for the series production model will start at under EUR30,000. "The ID.3 is an all-rounder that is suitable for everyday use. It is compact, as such offering the manoeuvrability of a small car with the interior space of a mid-range vehicle. It combines exciting design with innovative technology and significant range," said the automaker. The ID.3 is based on the new modular electric drive matrix (MEB) architecture, which has been designed for electric drive systems across the VW Group brands and segments. VW claims the long wheelbase of the MEB layout, combined with very short overhangs, results in an expansive vehicle interior and says the five-seater ID.3 sets new standards in the compact class. At series production launch, the ID.3 will be available with three battery size options.

Not be outdone, Ford, having heralded the product at an event in Amsterdam a while back, showed most of its planned new electrified models for Europe. These include the Puma (reviving an old badge last used on a Fiesta-based coupe) EcoBoost Hybrid, redesigned Explorer (returning the US nameplate to Europe) and [Transit based] Tourneo Custom plug-in hybrids plus the redesigned Kuga SUV – the first blue oval model to offer mild-, full- and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The automaker said it expected the 'tipping point' of electrified versus conventional petrol and diesel powertrains by the end of 2022 when over 50% of its passenger vehicle sales would be electrified.

There was some concern, too. Tightened European carbon dioxide emission rules could send some automakers into bankruptcy, a top PSA executive said in Frankfurt. Some of the Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall brand owner's rivals will struggle to survive the next decade of carbon regulation, CEO Carlos Tavares said. "I'd be surprised if we didn't see a few bankruptcies, considering the amplitude of the coming change." The challenge of cutting CO2 to 95g per kilometre for 95% of cars from the current 120.5g average - a figure that has risen as consumers spurn fuel efficient diesels and embrace SUVs - was fraught with danger as the cost of pushing pricey technology on unconvinced consumers could hammer profits in an industry already suffering a downturn in sales. By 2021, all cars sold in the EU must be compliant.

Away from the show, we continued our looks at future GM brand products, this time GMC. "For a long time, not even General Motors itself seemed to know just what GMC was meant to be other than an alternative to Chevrolet when it came to light trucks in North America and the Middle East. The brand has lately become more premium, more rugged and in many ways, GM's all-American answer to Jeep, albeit without the smaller vehicles."

We also covered Buick noting that, though a relatively small brand in North America, it is a big deal in China, where 432,264 vehicles were sold in the first half of the year (compared to 107,240 in the US). Which is why talk of GM phasing out Buick cars won't happen, at least not in its number one market.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com

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