IAA Mobility in München: Die große Autoshow unter freiem Himmel

IIn the Munich Residence, the former seat of the dukes, electors, and kings of Bavaria, it is not Europe’s largest car manufacturer Volkswagen that has settled, but its relatively unknown subsidiary Cupra. As visitors stroll through the historic gate to the Imperial Courtyard on this sunny Wednesday morning, their attention is drawn to a powerful facade made of copper and concrete. It leads them to the „Dark Rebel,“ as Cupra has named its dark design study, which vaguely resembles a Batmobile. The super sports car is constantly surrounded by a crowd of people.

Die „Open Spaces“ sind nicht nur bei den VW-Managern sehr beliebt, sondern auch bei BMW, Porsche und Audi. Nach nur zwei Messetagen ziehen die Verantwortlichen ein positives Zwischenfazit. Die Stände unter freiem Himmel verwandeln Münchens Innenstadt eine Woche lang in einen Showroom für die Autoindustrie.

The exhibition buildings in the center are different from the traditional exhibition spaces in the dark halls outside the gates of the Bavarian capital. The open spaces, as the name suggests, are open and freely accessible, they are larger and more noticeable – and they are surrounded by Munich landmarks such as the Residence, Opera, or Theatinerkirche.

Von Porsche überdacht: Der Wittelsbacher Platz in München wird zum Mekka der Sportwagen-Fans.

Von Porsche überdacht: Der Wittelsbacher Platz in München wird zum Mekka der Sportwagen-Fans. : Bild: dpa

Für Münchens Oberbürgermeister Dieter Reiter (SPD) geht das Konzept auf. Er sieht die zweite Auflage der IAA in München als „großen Erfolg“, wie er anlässlich der Eröffnung in dieser Woche sagte. „Wir haben einen neuen Weg von der Auto- zur Mobilitätsmesse beschritten.“ Für diesen Ansatz habe man gern die schönsten Plätze in der Innenstadt geöffnet.

Cupra, a Spanish subsidiary of VW that aims to replace the unsuccessful Seat brand, has secured a special and prominent location with the Königsbau. Its presence even surpasses that of Mercedes. The traditional Stuttgart brand is not immediately visible. Its stand is located a few steps behind the impressive display of Cupra, in the rear pharmacy courtyard of the residence.

Fahrradhersteller machen auch Gebrauch von der Anziehungskraft der IAA.

The rush is significant, partly due to the good weather. On Tuesday evening, BMW had to temporarily close the observation platform above the stand at the opera because of the large number of visitors at the Campari Bar. The bicycle manufacturers in the nearby Hofgarten, who give the fair the character of a platform for various forms of mobility, also report great interest.

Jörg Matheis, from the bicycle manufacturer Riese und Müller, says that they gladly take advantage of the „radiance“ of the IAA. The competitor Specialized showcases six show bikes and 19 bicycles that visitors can test drive on the adjacent test track at any time. Currently, there is no reason not to participate in the next edition of the IAA, they say.

The trade fair of this year will continue until Sunday. And for many exhibitors, it is already clear: A new round in two years without Open Spaces is unimaginable. Not least, the use of inner-city spaces has been part of the agreement, which is why Munich was awarded Germany’s largest trade fair in the first place.

Wer braucht Seat? Die VW-Marke Cupra zeigt das Showcar „Dark Rebel“.

Wer braucht Seat? Die VW-Marke Cupra zeigt das Showcar „Dark Rebel“. : Bild: Reuters

In the first attempt, in the year 2021 during the Corona pandemic, the response was more reserved. Social distancing rules and access restrictions created a distance that only partially allowed the concept of open stands to work. Another topic is environmental activists, who had already targeted the fair two years ago. Like back then, they have also appeared in a manageable manner this year. The police are prepared, with 4500 forces deployed in the city.

Oberbürgermeister Reiter kritisierte die Straßenblockaden durch Aktivisten. Sich der Diskussion zu verweigern und sich in medienwirksamen Protesten zu erschöpfen sei der falsche Weg zu mehr Klimaschutz.

Not everyone in the red-green governed town hall shares the praise for the inner-city trade fair appearance of the car manufacturers. The Greens, in particular, as coalition partners, criticized the allegedly excessive concept in public space during the first IAA in Munich, with which Audi, BMW, Porsche & Co. were able to advertise themselves. „We cannot imagine this in its current form again,“ said Green Party leader Anna Hanusch at the time. The form has changed a little; for example, Mercedes has refrained from its oversized stand in front of the Feldherrnhalle. However, the high presence of many car brands, especially new providers from China, remains.

The Open Spaces are hardly limited in terms of construction, as the city provides the IAA with approximately 50,000 square meters. According to reports, car manufacturers pay between 100 and 400 euros per square meter as rental fees to the organizing Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA). The special usage fee charged by the city is said to be significantly cheaper. The IAA is already an important economic factor for the city. And in ten days, the Oktoberfest will begin.