“Mobility is a basic human need” – IAA to debut bicycles at 2021 event

The International Motor Show Germany – known as Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA), is coming to Munich in September 2021 and, for the first time, will focus on bicycles. Tobias Gröber, executive director, business unit consumer goods at Messe München, and Dr Martin Koers, VDA managing director, Association of the Automotive Industry, discuss the plans, goals and ideas that are to be achieved with the new concept of the fair as a mobility platform

“Mobility is a basic human need – and fulfilling it in all its facets is an ever-greater challenge for our society which businesses and politics have to face,” says Koers. “The new IAA will show ways in which these mobility tasks can be combined: ecologically, efficiently, economically and socially. This new IAA in Munich is intended to be a driving force and stimulus for solutions for the mobility of the future.

“Mobility is often presented as an either/or: driving pleasure or sustainability, city or country, individual or public, automobile or bicycle. But mobility is always a multifaceted “and”. It’s precisely this “and” that should be at the core of the new IAA. Mobility and climate protection are not opposites either; they are always linked. The latest technologies are the basis for new forms of sustainability. This IAA will show that in all its diversity.”

The IAA is being positioned with a view of all modes of transport, Koers continues. In addition to the automobile, there are also bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters and public transport, meaning the IAA will develop to a “comprehensive mobility platform”. The IAA is also intended to be the “initial spark” for the host city to develop into a smart city with intelligent transport concepts and innovative networking of transport modes. “Munich and the city’s conception offer the best conditions for this – and thus for the restart of the IAA,” says Koers.

Outdoor by ISPO also provides a platform in Munich where bicycle segments such as bike wear are prominent. But Gröber says this will keep the focus on soft goods (apparel) and accessories (helmets, bags, locks), with the end of June remaining the ‘perfect’ pre-order timing for clothing.

“We split into soft goods and hard goods, not bicycles as such on two platforms,” says Gröber. “The Outdoor by ISPO is a pure B2B trade fair and opens up European multisport key accounts and large e-tailers to soft goods brands. The proportion of stationary, pure bicycle dealers on site will be far lower there than at the IAA, but the clothing sales volume is not in this channel.”

The IAA will be brought to the public, on the street and in the city, continues Koers. “All three areas will be very exciting for the IAA visitor: The Summit on the exhibition grounds, the Blue Lane as a test track and the Open Space in the city centre. More than ever, the new IAA wants to make mobility tangible with all the senses: see, experience and discuss technology. The bicycle industry and cyclists will find a variety of opportunities available for them.”

“Over the past few years, ISPO has developed and tested a retail activation tool called “Altogether to Munich”,” says Gröber. “It is an online-based platform for exhibiting brands to be able to send automated invitations in seven languages, including an unlimited number of free retailer tickets.

“In addition, it is important to create incentives for retailers: side events, but also training courses, workshops and general networking platforms explicitly for retail and wholesale. The basis is the ISPO “Future of Retail Lab” concept.

“At the same time, it should be emphasised that the IAA is scheduled for September. By then, 90% of complete bike orders have been written. Parts and accessories are more relevant here when it comes to ordering. However, seeing trade fairs as a pure order platform was a thought from 25 years ago.

“Our goal is to create a B2B networking platform on the exhibition grounds for all bicycle stakeholders, retailers and wholesalers, product, marketing and sales managers of brands and suppliers, (transport) policymakers, associations and tech start-ups. In Munich’s city centre, as an industry, we want to celebrate the bicycle culture and scene together with our customers: on the Open Space and the Blue Line, where the products can be tested alongside other exciting side events.

Some sceptics in the cycling industry may think the bike will only be used as a “fig leaf” at the IAA – so how can the fair prove otherwise? “We should basically say goodbye to thinking in terms of opposites,” says Koers. “It’s not about car or bike, but about the holistic approach that brings sustainable mobility forward, especially in urban areas.

“The IAA is no longer a trade fair in the traditional sense, but an innovative mobility platform. This includes automobiles, e-bikes, e-scooters, bicycles, scooters and motorcycles, buses, trains, public transport and digital service networks, which are becoming increasingly important.

“On the other hand, every market economy lives from competition. The IAA is always about highlighting the particular strengths of the respective means of transport and integrating them into an overall mobility concept.”

In terms of next steps, Gröber says that to create momentum for the platform, it needs the commitment of selected, larger partners. “Talks with companies in the sector are due to start in August. We will report on the current status in the fourth quarter. At the same time, we’ll speak to the cycling associations to record their requirements.

“Regarding the practical questions of the presentation at the IAA: Open Space and Blue Lane can easily be used by the brand with existing event tools. For the Summit (exhibition grounds), we recommend that you do not use your own stand construction, but prefabricated, customisable package stands. These are significantly more cost-effective and reduce the overall effort.”

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