Highlights from Europe’s largest motoring showcase, the IAA Mobility 2023
The largest mobility trade fair in Europe took place in Munich this year — Chinese firms dominated the show with battery-efficient electric vehicles.
IAA Mobility is one of the largest trade fairs in the world. It’s one of two exhibition events (the other being IAA Transportation) that comprise The Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, known in English as the German International Automobile and Smart Mobility Expo. The show used to be called the Frankfurt Motor Show, but this year was the second time that it has taken place in Munich.
The fair, which ran from 5 to 10 September, was rebranded at the previous event in 2021 to no longer focus specifically on automobiles, but rather more generally on technological advancements and products relating to mobility and transport; but for now, cars are still dominating the space.
Although it’s still the largest auto show in Europe, the scale of the event and the pool of participating car manufacturers has shrunk compared to previous years. On the other hand, the number of exhibitors in newer fields such as renewable power sources has increased. More than a hundred start-up companies participated this year, a record high.
China dominated the fair
Chinese manufacturers dominated IAA this year more than ever before. There were about 70 Chinese firms exhibiting, second only to the Germans themselves. Volkswagen (VW), which used to take up entire halls to showcase its models, used about 1,500 square metres — less than their Chinese rival Build Your Dreams (BYD). BYD exceeded VW’s sales last year, largely because of the government’s significant subsidising of its battery-electric vehicles, (BEVs).
Highlights of IAA 2023
BYD flexed its new market dominance at the fair, exhibiting a range of six new models meant to premier in Europe, including the Dolphin compact car, which is to be sold at an entry price of below €30,000, which few EV manufacturers can match. Their competitive edge comes largely from the efficiency of their batteries, which don’t use cobalt or nickel.
Volkswagen introduced the ID GTI — a compact electric vehicle designed for daily use with a central controller inspired by a golf ball. The model is estimated to be released in 2025 for the approximate price of €25,200.
Bosch is developing a centralised IT and electronic architecture for software-operated vehicles that allows for wireless software updates. Over-the-air software updates increased the recyclability of batteries and other vital components in electrically operated vehicles. Bosch also introduced a new control concept — Dynamics Control 2.0 — which improves safety by integrating software in a variety of vehicle systems.
It holds the potential to revolutionise manufacturing processes, enhance supply chain security, reduce scrap rates, and identify production anomalies using artificial intelligence, thus reducing costs.
BMW launched the Vision Neue Klasse, an electric concept car that is the poster child for their future EV ranges. The model incorporates a new heads-up display spanning the width of the windshield as part of its BMW iDrive infotainment system, which integrates real and virtual worlds. BMW plans to roll out a range based on this model by 2025.
Tesla launched an updated version of its Model 3 with various new features that were previously only available in their higher-end products, including ambient lighting, seat ventilation, and a rear touchscreen.
Audi unveiled the Q6 E-tron SUV. The electric SUV features a user-friendly digital interface and a sophisticated digital assistant. The vehicle is built on the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture, co-developed with Porsche, which allows up to a 600 km range.
Mercedes showed off its Concept CLA, which rivals Tesla’s Model 3. It will be available in several configurations, including purely electronic and internal-combustion drivetrains, as well as rear- and four-wheel drive systems. With an 800V electrical architecture, the car can be charged with rapid DC at up to 250kW. Its bi-directional charging capabilities suggest it could be geared towards either vehicle-to-home, vehicle-to-grid, or vehicle-to-appliance tasks. Kitted out with Level 3 Lidar-based autonomous driving assistance, Mercedes hopes to use wireless updates to enable Level 3 autonomy in the future.
Still, despite the apparent focus on electric transportation and sustainability, IAA Mobility 2023 was disrupted by protests by climate groups claiming that the fair is greenwashing the transport industry rather than fostering genuinely environmentally friendly innovations and that the motivations of the fair are geared to serve the rich. DM