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2019 IAA Frankfurt motor show
Monday, 16 September 2019

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At the 68th IAA Frankfurt motor show, held from 12 to 22 September, the VDA (German Association of the Automotive Industry) have given the event a new look and feel. VDA President Bernhard Mattes likens the show's transformation to that of the auto industry itself: «Automotive companies will meet new digital players. The IAA is becoming more interactive, more connected, and more digital. Trends and topics will be presented and discussed by representatives from many sectors.»
Though a surprising list of marques were absent from the show, IAA still sparkles with interesting cars and technologies.

Here are our Seven main takeaways from Frankfurt :

  • IAA is changing :

From an exhibition to a broader-based, more interactive platform with auto manufacturers, tech companies, suppliers, mobility service providers, and startups.

  • Many automakers skipped the event :

Including Alfa Romeo, Citroën, and DS, Ferrari, Fiat, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota(!), and Peugeot.

  • Big focus on clean-car technology :

Clean-running engines, electrics, and hybrids. Most of the promotion and communication is focused on EVs. Automakers are facing tighter emissions regulations in Europe, and will have to pay huge penalties for violating the 95 g/km CO2 limit starting next year.

  • German and Chinese automakers are on top of their game :

More than half of the enormous show space is dedicated to German companies like the VW Group, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW. These companies also had the biggest presentations of high technology. And a notable 10% of exhibitors are Chinese—mainly with new EVs.

  • No communication on lighting :

This time around, nobody wants to talk up the technology or performance of their lighting systems! Audi present their matrix lights in a showcase, but other than that, there seems to be no effort to give ADB the marketing and education push it deserves.

  • Dot-lighting for concepts; module-lighting for production cars :

We're seeing more and more lighting modules in production cars—not surprising, since modularisation is a cost-effective strategy—but fewer modules in concept cars where modules used to predominate. Now, most concept cars have dotty LED arrays, perhaps as a placeholder to telegraph «Coming soon: this car will have LEDs!».

  • Interior lighting's day is here :

As interior lighting innovations are presented mainly in concept cars. Here again, German brands like Mercedes and BMW are assertively pushing ahead on this front, though they're certainly not alone.