Francfort Auto Show Car Picture

Many heavy goods vehicles in the sector have decided not to have a stand in Frankfurt this year. The organizers of this once unavoidable event are looking for a new model.

After the Paris Motor Show, it is the turn of the Frankfurt Motor Show to look for the martingale to recover its costs. The powerful professional organisation of German car manufacturers (VDA), which organises every two years (alternating with Paris) this event, which was once a must for the entire global car industry, detailed its strategy for reinventing itself on Monday. “The IAA is becoming the international platform for the individual mobility of the future,” VDA President Bernhard Mattes said at a press conference in Frankfurt.

Heavy brands vehicles absent

Several new initiatives will be launched at the new edition, which opens on Thursday, September 12: major conferences hosted by leading economic players, such as Virginia Rometty, IBM boss Ola Källenius, Daimler’s new number one, or Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg; vehicle tests; a space dedicated to employment. “We want to make the show so attractive that those who are absent this year, for one reason or another, will return to the next LPN,” he says.

Indeed, many heavy goods vehicles in the sector have called in sick. Among the major non-German manufacturers, few have booked a stand, with Hyundai and Land Rover being the exception. “It is no longer an international exhibition, but a national one,” said Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, Director of the Center Automotive Research (CAR), during the summer.

Among the four largest automakers on the planet, only Volkswagen will be represented. Neither the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, Toyota nor General Motors signed this year. The same applies to the PSA group (Peugeot, Citroën and DS), which will only present its German brand Opel, or to Fiat-Chrysler, Volvo, Suzuki and Mazda. The Germans themselves – especially BMW – will significantly reduce the size of their stand at this year’s event. In total, the number of exhibitors fell from 1,000 two years ago to about 800 this year.

Return on investment

Today, manufacturers no longer consider trade fairs as obligatory events. “Before, we used to book a stand a little out of habit,” they explain at PSA. “From now on, trade shows are considered as marketing tools like any other: we consider the return on investment before making a decision. The question did not arise for long for Opel, which is launching its new Corsa.

Under increasing pressure on their margins while they also have to invest in the electrification of their ranges or in the connected vehicle, all manufacturers do the same calculation. And this is all the more so since the cost of stands has risen sharply over the years, sometimes reaching several million euros.

Committed to a similar approach, the Paris Motor Show has concluded an agreement with Hopscotch to become a “car festival”. Without renting stands from manufacturers, it will still be necessary to find a way to monetize these reinvented auto shows.