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Sunday, September 26, 2021

What Car Shows May Look Like, if Car Shows Have a Future


For industry insiders, who make up a sizable proportion of visitors, I.A.A. Mobility also included a Davos-style “summit” on Wednesday, with panel discussions titled “Manage Your Electrified Fleet,” “Decarbonizing the Automotive Supply Chain,” and “Challenge of the Christian Worldview in the Age of Digitalization.”

Axel Schmidt, the head of Accenture’s automotive division, believes that a new format is long overdue and that organisers are on the right track. But he wasn’t sure it would work.

“I’m not sure if this is the start of the end or the start of a new era,” Mr. Schmidt said in an interview.

The start of the endgame is a distinct possibility. Many of the vast exhibition halls at the Messe Munich, the city’s fairgrounds, were empty because companies such as Stellantis, the maker of Fiat, Peugeot, and Jeep vehicles, refused to rent space.

All automakers are facing financial difficulties. Due to a shortage of semiconductors, car prices have skyrocketed, pushing sales well below pre-pandemic levels. However, sales of electric vehicles are increasing.

And, just as the pandemic has caused many people to question their routines and values, it has also caused auto executives to question venerable traditions such as car shows. The Geneva International Motor Show, once one of the industry’s major events, has not been held since 2019, though organisers have stated that it will resume next year.

The North American International Auto Show, the country’s most important car show, is also adapting this year, moving from its usual location in Detroit to M1 Concourse, a racetrack in Pontiac, Mich. The Motor Bella event will allow visitors to ride in high-performance sports cars or bump around an off-road course, as well as view more traditional carmaker exhibits.

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