Another Major Auto Show Faces An Uncertain Future

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Welcome to the rapidly changing auto industry.

There's no doubt the auto industry, as a whole, is changing rapidly. Technological disruptions, such as automotive sharing apps like Uber, the onset of mainstream electric vehicles, and a younger generation that does not share the same general enthusiasm for cars as their elders all contribute. Automakers are already responding to these changes, such rebranding themselves as mobility companies. Of course these changes don't happen overnight, but things will certainly look quite different 20 years from now. One of those things is the traditional automotive show format. Starting in 2020, for example, the North American International Auto Show will be held in June instead of January. It's simply too cold to have outdoor displays demonstrating EVs and autonomous vehicles. Not surprisingly, Detroit won't be the only auto show to undergo transformations.

According to the German language Handelsblatt, the future of the Frankfurt Motor Show in its present form is in doubt.

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We just returned from Frankfurt and we couldn't help but notice the following automakers opted to skip the show: Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Volvo, Ferrari, and every brand from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Even those who were present had scaled-down displays compared to two years ago, the last time the show bi-annual show was held. "The importance of motor shows has changed. In the future, the focus will have to be less on the product and more on the technology," said BMW's finance chief, Nicolas Peter, to Handelsblatt.

For example, BMW reduced its floor space and show budget this year by nearly two-thirds. Daimler scaled back its space for both Mercedes and Smart by 30 percent. Furthermore, the total number of exhibitors dropped by 20 percent and the exhibition space itself was reduced by 16 percent.

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Even as the show is currently open to the public, the German auto industry association and show organizers are planning to meet to discuss new ideas for future shows. This year's show was marked with major debuts such as the Porsche Taycan, Volkswagen ID.3, and Land Rover Defender. Given that two out of the three are mainstream production EVs speaks volumes.

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