IAA Mobility reflects technical and social upheaval

IAA Mobility reflects technical and social upheaval

Feature articles |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The change in Europe’s most important motor show is already clear in its name: it is now called IAA Mobility. With this, the organisers – the industry association VDA and Messe München – want to emphasise that the focus is no longer on the car as a – preferably highly motorised – product, but on its purpose: mobility. In the shadow of the heated discussion about decarbonisation and sustainability in mobility as well, the trade fair organisers have then also included other vehicles than just cars in the exhibition programme – 70 bicycle manufacturers alone are represented in the halls of the Munich trade fair company. Numerous forums at the exhibition centre and throughout the city of Munich will discuss new transport concepts. And of the cars presented, not a single one is equipped with an internal combustion engine; the triumphant advance of electric drives is unmistakable. In addition, several left-wing and ecologically oriented action groups have put the IAA in their crosshairs and announced protests, including Greenpeace or an alliance with the meaningful name “Sand im Getriebe” (“sand in the gearbox”).  

In addition, the event, which is being held in Munich for the first time after a long period of successful events in Frankfurt, has apparently lost some of its reputation. Many foreign manufacturers turned their backs on the IAA, such as Stellantis with its Opel, Fiat and Peugeot brands. The Japanese OEMs were also absent. The organiser justified their cancellation in advance with the Corona pandemic.

The car industry in Germany is also struggling with considerable problems. Admittedly, the switch to electric mobility is progressing faster than was assumed some time ago. In terms of new registrations, for example, electric cars have recently already overtaken diesel engines, which were celebrated as a model of success a few years ago; soon they will also overtake combustion engines altogether. But car manufacturers are still suffering from supply bottlenecks for electronic components. Because of these problems, carmakers in many places will not be able to ramp up production again as planned after the summer break.

These material bottlenecks also and especially affect electronics suppliers. Continental CEO Nikolai Setzer, for example, said that his company expects the supply of semiconductors to remain tight. He assumes that the chip crisis will continue to accompany the car industry in the coming year. Volkswagen’s management also expects a prolonged supply crisis. “We have to deal with the fact that we will have to deal with the effects of this shortage until the first half of 2022, maybe even longer,” VW supervisory board chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch told news agency DPA. BMW boss Oliver Zipse made similar comments.

Intel’s Gelsinger commits to automotive chips

Yet the value share of semiconductors in cars will increase in the future. In a keynote address at the IAA Mobility, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger predicted that the cost of chips, transistors and other semiconductor components will rise to more than 20% of the total cost of premium cars by 2030. This development is due to the general increase in demand for semiconductors. Gelsinger expects the TAM for automotive semiconductors to more than double to $115 billion by the end of the decade, representing 11% of the total silicon market. This trend is driven by what Gelsinger called the “digitisation of everything”, as well as four “superpowers” that will have a major impact on the automotive and mobility industries – ubiquitous computing, pervasive connectivity, edge-to-cloud infrastructure and artificial intelligence.

On this occasion, Gelsinger announced that Intel plans to build at least two new state-of-the-art semiconductor fabs in Europe with an investment of up to €80 billion over the next ten years. Intel Foundry Services, announced in March, is currently in discussions with potential customers in Europe, including automotive companies and their suppliers. Intel is working with leading automotive companies and is committing significant resources in Europe to drive the transition to more advanced process technologies globally over the next few years, he said. Gelsinger announced plans to maintain permanent foundry capacity at the factory in Ireland for automotive customers.

The Mercedes EQE complements Daimler’s range of luxury e-cars

The new automotive presentations at the fair were very much in keeping with the times. Daimler came to Munich with no less than five world premieres – all of them electrically powered, of course. Probably the most spectacular of these was the EQE sedan, which was described in the media as the “little brother” of the EQS flagship model presented in April. Both models are based on the same electric platform; however, the EQE is intended to appeal to a wider audience. A special feature of the EQE is the ability to drive semi-autonomously at SAE level 3.

Volkswagen’s e-Life: electromobility for the masses

Volkswagen, the largest volume brand present at the event, is showing the ID.5 GTX as the third model in VW’s electric family. Like the previously presented family members ID.3 and ID.4, the ID.5 is also based on the Modular Electric Building Kit MEB. The ID.1 subcompact is intended to round off the lower end of the product range. With a price tag of around €20,000, it is expected to make electric mobility affordable for a broad range of buyers who have so far only been able to afford a combustion engine. Market observers believe that the ID.1 will achieve high sales volumes, but the small car will not be on the market for several years; Volkswagen only showed a study at the fair.

Other new launches are coming from Audi, BMW, Renault and numerous other manufacturers. eeNews Europe will report on these separately.

Related articles:

Daimler raises the curtain on the Mercedes EQS

Renault switches to turbo mode in electric mobility

Intel eyes Bavaria for wafer fab

Chip shortage to last into 2022 says Gartner

BMW to foster sustainability with startup contest

BMW says good-bye to ICE engine production in Munich

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