It could be the Berlin, Hamburg, or Munich Motor Show instead.

Auto shows are facing a crisis. Declining attendance has many automakers questioning the merits of the elaborate displays, the splashy press conferences, and the financial investment associated with the shows. More and more are skipping them altogether. This exodus has made it challenging for show organizers to draw exhibitors and attendees, and not even the International Automobile Exhibition – known as the Frankfurt Motor Show – is immune. Today, the Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA), the show’s organizing body, announced Frankfurt would not host the show for 2021.

Instead, the VDA is looking to Berlin, Munich, and Hamburg, with a decision on which city will host the 2021 show expected in the next few weeks as negotiations with each continue. Seven cities presented their concepts and ideas for how’d they would host the show – Cologne, Stuttgart, and Hanover also submitted. The VDA said each city had “very creative” ideas, and that “it’s a very tight race” between the finalists. The next IAA could focus more on mobility – something other shows are highlighting.

The news is a blow to Frankfurt, which has hosted for the show for almost 70 years. It’s also home to Germany’s financial center and the European Central Bank. The VDA thanked Frankfurt “for this long, very good and trusting partnership,” along with the other entrants for participating in the competition.

Thankfully, the IAA show isn’t going away. It’s a nice complement to the Paris Motor Show – the two alternate year-to-year. However, it is indicative of the times as show organizers try to attract visitors as automakers abandoned the shows and venues for more intimate engagements with journalists, customers, and the public. The IAA saw a sharp decline in visitors and exhibitors during last year’s show, attracting 550,000 people. However, that’s way below the 810,000 that attended in 2017 and the 931,000 in 2015.

Source: Verband der Automobilindustrie
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VDA is holding further talks on IAA 2021 with Berlin, Hamburg and Munich

Berlin, January 29, 2020 – Very tight race - Every city with great commitment and creative ideas - Final decision on IAA location 2021 in the next few weeks

Statement by the board of the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA):

"We are pleased about the great interest in the new IAA. After intensive preparatory work, which started in October 2019, seven cities presented their concepts and ideas to the VDA. On January 23 and 24, 2020, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Munich and Stuttgart presented their respective concepts to the VDA and VDA member companies.

These presentations were then evaluated extensively.

Each city's ideas are very creative and consistently demanding. They underline that each of the seven cities has its own profile and strengths. It's a very tight race, the performance consistently high.

In today's meeting, the VDA board dealt intensively with the various concepts and ideas and made the decision that further talks should be held with the cities of Berlin, Hamburg and Munich and that specific contract negotiations should also be started. A decision on the city in which the IAA will take place from 2021 is expected in the next few weeks.

The competition for the IAA 2021 only knows winners: in the application process, each city has developed interesting ideas on how urban and sustainable mobility can be improved in their region.

The ideas and concepts of the city of Frankfurt am Main were also very impressive. However, after evaluating all relevant criteria, the IAA 2021 will no longer take place at the Frankfurt am Main trade fair location.

This decision was not an easy one for the VDA board of directors: the main metropolis was the city of the IAA for almost 70 years; internationally, this became clear from the frequently used term 'Frankfurt Motor Show'. The VDA thanks the city of Frankfurt and Messe Frankfurt for this long, very good and trusting partnership.

And overall, the Association of the Automotive Industry thanks all cities that participated in the competition for the IAA 2021 for their great commitment and the creativity of the ideas."