Frankfurt is the real deal when it comes to trade events. Germany’s International Motor Show is the oldest and, frequently, the largest exhibition of new vehicles and automotive engineering on the planet. However, some important automakers are deciding not to bother with it this year.
The event’s organizer, Germany’s VDA industry association, has confirmed that several automakers have cancelled on the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung in September 2017. While there will still be over 50 individual brands from Europe, Asia, and the United States, a few of the heavier hitters are following the trend of taking their marketing money off the floor and rerouting it back into digital advertising.
Brands forgoing Germany’s IAA exhibition include Nissan, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, DS, Volvo, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Jeep.
“Naturally we regret when individual exhibitors will not be in Frankfurt this time. The reasons are varying and each specific to the company, but mainly connected to financial or corporate policies,” said VDA’s managing director Klaus Braeunig in the statement. “These exhibitors however have all spoken out in favor of strong automotive trade shows and are open to returning in the future.”
Whether or not they return is dubious, however. Without a high-profile product to unveil, there isn’t much incentive to expend funds to transport the staff and sheet metal to a trade show when you can endlessly remind consumers about your other products online. PSA’s Citroen will be in attendance for that very reason, while its other brands — Peugeot and DS — are staying home.
“Each brand constantly compares the efficiency of its marketing investments to decide its participation in shows,” a PSA spokesman told Automotive News Europe. The company explained it was simply a matter of considering the possible return on investment and a lack of desire to take part in trade shows solely out of “habit.”
Nissan said its choice to avoid IAA resulted from a recent global assessment of the company’s event and show strategy. “Moving forward, we will adopt a flexible strategy using a combination of automotive, consumer and dedicated Nissan events and partnerships to broaden our reach and appeal among influencers and wider consumers,” a Nissan spokesperson said.
The cancellations in Germany are by no means an isolated incident. Trade shows have seen diminishing participation for years now. Ford didn’t bother to attend Paris last year and Detroit had a distinctive lack of interesting concepts or flash in 2017. Bob Lutz went to far as to call the event “mediocre at best, irrelevant at worst” and faulted it for keeping all the interesting technology in the basement.
Automotive focus has shifted heavily toward tech-related shows in the last few years. The Consumer Electronics Show — now just called “CES” — has seen an upswing in automakers hoping to show off their latest and greatest features. Meanwhile, traditional trade shows are becoming progressively more lackluster and are likely doomed to continue down that path as car builders take their marketing cash out of the physical realm.
[Image: Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung]