The IAA – A Success Story

From the very start, back in 1897, the IAA has kept abreast of developments in every aspect of mobility – from the first motor car, via commercial vehicles and electromobility, right up to autonomous driving in the near future.

From the very start, back in 1897, the IAA has kept abreast of developments in every aspect of mobility – from the first motor car, via commercial vehicles and electromobility, right up to autonomous driving in the near future.

The Early Days

In 1897 the "Mitteleuropäische Motorwagenverein" organizes a one-day exhibition of cars in Berlin, the origin of the Internationale Automobilausstellung (IAA). This "Automobile Revue", as it was called, is a modest affair, since early cars were nothing more than motorized, open carriages and not particularly popular. Such that the Hotel Bristol on the glamorous thoroughfare Unter den Linden is large enough to host the eight motor cars on show – exhibited by Benz, Daimler, Kühlstein and Lutzmann.

The automobile slowly gains acceptance with the first large and small “tonneaus”, cars with a roof over the passage compartment. But the chauffeur still had to sit outside. The term “limousine” only appeared around 1910, to describe a completely covered car. The IAA is now a regular event, with cars and commercial vehicles exhibited at different times from 1907 onward. The IAA is held almost every year up to 1911, mainly in Berlin, and even twice in some years.

In 1913 Henry Ford changes the automotive world for ever with the introduction of the conveyor belt. Manufacturing booms, cars become ever more affordable and enable mass motorization. 1915 saw over one million cars, trucks and busses built worldwide. With its large new exhibition hall on Berlin’s Kaiserdamm the IAA hopes to offer more companies space to exhibit their vehicles. But the first world war put a stop to the opening celebrations in the fall of 1914, and there was to be no more IAA for the next seven years.

The first IAA following the War and the 14th in total is held on the Berlin trade fair grounds. The overarching topic is how Germany could recapture its former success and become competitive again despite strong international pressure. In 1921, 67 manufacturers exhibit 90 motor car and 49 HGV models, attracting some 300,000 visitors. Entrance had to be refused at times due to the huge number of people in the halls.

In the "Golden Twenties," demand for affordable vehicles rose sharply. Hanomag, a Hanover-based company, presented its first affordable small car for 2,300 Reichsmarks at the IAA in Berlin in December 1924. Opel introduced the Opel 4/12 PS, an open two-seater, the first automobile to be produced on an assembly line in Germany. Because of its green paint, small size and springy wheels, the car was affectionately known as the Laubfrosch. Other highlights of the 1924 IAA included sedans, trucks and motorcycles, factory machinery and rubber tires. In May 1927, the 19th edition of the IAA was held for the first time in Cologne's exhibition halls at the insistence of Konrad Adenauer, then mayor of Cologne. The following year, the IAA made a guest appearance in Leipzig, before the IAA location was once again firmly established in Berlin. In the years that followed, the international reputation of the IAA continued to grow. However, the world economic crisis prevented the reopening until 1931. At this event, exhibitors presented vehicles with front-wheel drive for the first time. In 1932, the event attracted around 300,000 visitors from Germany and abroad.

The 23rd IAA was opened by the then Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler. As more and more exhibitors presented motorcycles, the event was renamed IAMA (International Automobile and Motorcycle Exhibition). From 1933 onwards, the IAMA regrettably came increasingly under the influence of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. One example of this was the newly established "Hall of Honor". Due to cheaper vehicle models, the IAMA attracted an ever wider audience. Growing attendance was also aided by nationwide advertising on advertising pillars, commercials in movie theaters, and the use of special trains and buses.

Fifty years after the invention of the automobile by Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, Mercedes-Benz presented the technically advanced and visually modern 170 V at the 1936 IAMA. The 29th IAMA was held from February 17 to March 5, 1939, just six months before the outbreak of World War II.  In that year, visitors were first introduced to the "Volkswagen," which at the time was still called the "Kraft-durch-Freude-Wagen." After the end of the war, the vehicle was to write automotive history as the "Beetle".

Much of German automotive factories and their suppliers were completely destroyed during the second world war. Although the first post-war motor shows were held in 1946 in Paris and 1947 in Geneva, vanquished Germany is not allowed to exhibit what remains of its automobile industry. So from 1947 to 1949 German companies attend the export trade fair in Hanover, until in 1950 the IAA switches to the “Autoschau” in West Berlin. Then in April 1951 the 34th IAA is the first to take place in Frankfurt/Main. This major event draws 570,000 visitors from 45 countries. The organizer is now the Verband der Automobilindustrie e.V. (VDA), the successor to the “Reichsverband der Automobilindustrie” (RDA). From now on the IAA is to take place every other year in Frankfurt.

A World-Class Event

In 1957 the automobile celebrates its 70th birthday with production in West Germany topping the million mark. Over 300,000 people are employed in the industry, making Germany the world’s largest car manufacturer after the USA. Almost half of all the vehicles "made in Germany" are sold abroad. Low-budget cars like the Citroën 2CV, Fiat 500 and VW Beetle are popular beginner’s models. In addition, “microcars” become fashionable, such as the Iso Isetta, later built by BMW, the Fuldamobil, Messerschmidt Kabinenroller, Goliath 700, Zündapp Janus and Goggomobil. The 39th IAA in 1959 attracts 870,000 visitors and for the first time vehicles from the Soviet Union are on display.

If the 1950s was the decade of the small car, visitors to the IAA during the 60s increasingly look at mid-range and second cars. Gone are dark post-war models, replaced by modern bright colors. The 40th IAA in 1961 attracts 950,000 visitors – a new record. 1965 sees Honda as the first Japanese car manufacturer at the IAA.  Numerous exhibits now focus on safety, with one of the highlights being the safety belt and in 1969 ITT reveals the world’s first anti-lock braking system (ABS).

The 1970s are not an easy time for the automotive sector: cars were under fire, the oil crisis made fuel expensive and small, cheap and thrifty cars start coming from Asia. In 1971 the IAA was canceled due to the unfavorable economic state of the industry and the sector only recovered from the recession in 1977. German car manufacturers aim for a new record output, resulting in more than four million vehicles being produced. The 47th IAA thus becomes a symbol of the increased confidence within the German automotive industry.

The car has now already become the main mode of transport for people and goods – and an important economic factor. Every sixth worker in West Germany earns their living either directly or indirectly from automobiles. This decade sees the breakthrough for diesel engines and the first cars with fuel injection and turbochargers are mass produced, while interiors increasingly feature digital displays and on-board computers. New models on show are mainly sold on their economy and low consumption. 1989 sees the last joint IAA with both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, as the Frankfurt grounds have become too small for the mass event: over 1.2 million people come to the 53th IAA.

The IAA was first subdivided in two in 1991. In odd-numbered years, the IAA Passenger Cars is held in Frankfurt; while even-numbered years see the IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hanover. The first “pure” IAA Passenger Cars was a huge success with a total of 1,271 exhibitors from 43 countries displaying their new products on some 200,000 square meters, drawing more than 935,000 visitors.

New Opel models at IAA 1991

The IAA was first subdivided in two in 1991. In odd-numbered years the IAA Passenger Cars is held in Frankfurt; even-numbered years see the IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hannover. The first “pure” IAA Passenger Cars was huge success. A total of 1,271 exhibitors from 43 countries displayed their new products and innovations on an exhibition site of some 200,000 square metres. With more than 935,000 visitors, the IAA Passenger Cars was extremely well attended.

The first IAA Commercial Vehicles in 1992 attracts almost 1,200 exhibitors from 29 countries and 287,000 visitors. With an area covering 250,000 square meters, 46 % of the exhibitors come to Hanover for the first time and 66 % of the visitors were from the trade. The subdivision of the show can be deemed a success for the VDA.

Innovations under the hood clearly show that the automotive industry is taking environmental protection seriously. Changes to the drive systems and engines make cars even more economical and cleaner. The smart has its world premiere in 1997 while electric cars herald a new era. Mercedes-Benz presents the NECAR 3 “New Electric Car” at the IAA – the world’s first fuel-cell vehicle with its own hydrogen production on board. By 1999 the Toyota Prius has made hybrid vehicles acceptable.

Although the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York cast a shadow over the IAA Passenger Cars, the exhibition went ahead all the same. As a mark of solidarity with the victims and their dependents, however, all show elements and loud music as well as the official opening ceremony with Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder were cancelled. VDA President Gottschalk explained this decision: “Because we could not permit terrorist forces to take away our freedom of action. And because, as a key international sector, we have a responsibility not to allow things to grind to a halt.” The general public unmistakably confirms that this is the right decision: More than 800,000 people visit the “quiet IAA”.

The 60th IAA Passenger Cars in 2002 broke all previous records for visitor numbers: Over a million car fans in Frankfurt turn this into the most visited IAA since 1991, when the IAA was first subdivided – still strongly influenced by the reunification boom. And a year later the 60th IAA Commercial Vehicles in Hanover confirms once again its position as one of the world’s leading transport trade fairs. Under the title “A Mobile Future”, it proves its importance as a driving force for the entire industry with a record number of new vehicles and innovations. Exhibitors present a total of 194 world premieres – 25 per cent more than in 2002 – as well as 61 European and 54 German premieres. The total of 1,370 exhibitors from almost every continent also sets a new record, proving that the IAA Commercial Vehicles has developed from a simple product show to a fully integrated trade fair, covering the entire value-added chain for mobility, transport and logistics.Die 60. IAA Pkw im Jahre 22 endet mit einem Besucherrekord. Rund eine Million Auto-Fans wird in Frankfurt gezählt. Damit ist diese IAA die besucherstärkste seit 1991, dem Jahr der ersten eigenständigen Pkw-IAA, die noch voll im Zeichen des Wiedervereinigungsbooms stand. Und die 60. IAA Nutzfahrzeuge in Hannover ein Jahr später unterstreicht erneut ihre Spitzenposition unter den Transportmessen weltweit. Unter dem Motto „Mobile Zukunft“ stellt sie mit einer Rekordzahl an neuen Fahrzeugen und Innovationen ihre Bedeutung als Motor für die gesamte Branche unter Beweis: Die Aussteller präsentieren allein 194 Weltpremieren – ein Viertel mehr als 2002 – und daneben 61 Europa- und 54 Deutschlandpremieren. Mit insgesamt 1.370 Ausstellern aus fast allen Kontinenten wird ein neuer Rekord erreicht. Die IAA Nutzfahrzeuge hat sich endgültig von der reinen Produktshow zur voll integrierten, über die komplette Wertschöpfungskette reichenden Messe der Mobilität, das Transports und der Logistik entwickelt.

With around 940,000 visitors and Chinese brands represented for the first time, the 61st IAA in 2005 is the second best ever. Two years later. the IAA is one of the most successful, attracting close to one million visitors from 125 countries. The 62nd IAA Commercial Vehicles in 2008 is the most successful commercial vehicle trade fair so far, raising the number of visitors to nearly 300,000. This IAA exceeds all figures from previous IAA Commercial Vehicles and sets a new record. It was also the first time the industry had presented alternative powertrains. Despite the crisis year of 2009, the IAA Cars proves to be a magnet for visitors: Around 850,000 people visit the show, easily exceeding the organizer’s target of 750,000. The industry exhibits a range of options that left all options open, ranging from optimized combustion engines, via hybrids up to the all-electric car powered by batteries or fuel cells.

Changes in Store

The 63rd IAA Commercial Vehicles exceeds all expectations: With 1,751 exhibitors from 43 countries, this has the second highest number of exhibitors ever. And with the new record of 272 world premieres, the IAA strengthened its position as the world’s most important trade fair for mobility, logistics and transport. It also marks a turning point – the commercial vehicle markets around the world are expanding. The IAA took place at the right time, boosted by the recovering economy, showing that commercial vehicles are setting technological trends. They lead in environmental technology with vans and buses clearly moving toward alternative powertrains: hybrid drive, electric power and fuel cells. In heavy trucks the trend is for further optimization of clean diesel engines that are becoming even more economical. Added to this are numerous innovations from suppliers as well as the makers of trailers and bodies. With 240,000 to 250,000 visitors, this IAA is average for the IAA Commercial Vehicles in this decade.

Over 12,000 journalists from 98 countries reported from the 64th IAA. Under the headline “Future Comes as Standard”, this IAA witnesses more exhibitors (1,012), more exhibition space (235,000 square meters), more world premieres (183) and more visitors (928,100) than its predecessor. Innovations focus on efficient vehicles which also meet customer demands for safety, comfort, quality and design. Among the premieres are the “Hall of Electric Mobility”, the first of its kind among motor shows worldwide, the Electric Mobility Congress and the CarIT Congress on the topic of connected driving.

The 64th IAA show has never been more international: 1,904 exhibitors from 46 countries. Under the slogan “Commercial vehicles – Driving the Future” the  262,300 visitors in Hanover also dramatically exceed expectations. The exhibitors present their developments in response to the major trends, such as Euro VI, aerodynamics, alternative drive systems, intelligent and predictive gear shifting, safety, lightweight construction, networking/telematics and extra-long trucks. With 354 world premieres – more than two thirds of which come from suppliers – the IAA again sets a record for new products. 2,087 journalists from 56 countries report on the latest models and innovations, while test drives in electrical vehicles are offered for the first time.

"The most automobile show in the world" is the slogan of the 65th IAA Cars, confirmed by 1,098 exhibitors from 35 countries, 42 % of whom come from abroad. More than 11,945 journalists from 99 countries report on the 159 world premieres on show. In addition, some 900,000 visitors learn about such trends as electric mobility and the connected vehicle. The IAA makes it clear that electric mobility is no longer just a vision: Electrical vehicles are on the road – from compact to sports cars.

Already the largest mobility trade fair, the 65th IAA Commercial Vehicles becomes even more international. 2,066 exhibitors from 45 countries exhibit 322 world premieres, covered by 1,944 journalists from 58 countries. China heads the list of the ten most represented foreign countries. The slogan is “Driving the future” with a focus on connectivity and efficiency and, over an area of close to 265,000 square meters, this year’s 250,000 visitors learn about the entire value-added chain for commercial vehicles.

Virtual Reality at New Mobility World

2015 – Enter the New Mobility World

Considering itself a B2B event at the IAA, the New Mobility World is aimed at both high-tech and digital companies, as well as the movers and shakers from the industry, service providers, startups, suppliers and decision makers  from politics, the media, science and society. The four formats FORUM, EXPO, LIVE and NMW Lab18 make the future of mobility tangible.

IAA Today

The IAA Commercial Vehicles was characterized by unprecedented dynamism. In 2016, the IAA was even more the trade show for decision-makers, and it was more international than ever. Three major themes dominated this IAA: Electromobility, digitalization and urban logistics. As part of the New Mobility World logistics, these topics were addressed at numerous congresses, on the LIVE stage in the outdoor area, during the "Guided Tours" and during many electric test drives on the IAA grounds. IAA visitors were able to immerse themselves in this new world of mobility and logistics and experience it directly. 


Under the motto "Experience the Future," the 67th IAA Cars will showcase the entire range of innovations for mobility, from digitization and electromobility to new mobility concepts in cities. In addition to digitization, electromobility in particular is shaping this IAA. New Mobility World brings together tech companies, the automotive industry, startups and disruptors and is establishing itself as a platform for new, innovative concepts relating to the future of mobility. With around 1,000 exhibitors from 39 countries, the IAA is very well booked. 41 percent of the exhibitors come from abroad. The exhibition area covers almost 200,000 square meters. The IAA boasts 363 innovations, including 228 world premieres – both new record levels.

The 67th IAA Commercial Vehicles, with the motto "Driving tomorrow," fully lived up to its claim as the world's most important leading trade show for transport, logistics and mobility. The IAA showed that an entire industry is on the move! On all days of the trade show, the focus was on the megatrends of electromobility, digitalization and urban logistics – and this was the case for manufacturers of commercial vehicles and buses, the trailer industry and the many suppliers. With 2,174 exhibitors from 48 countries, the already very good level from 2016 was topped once again. With 282,000 square meters of exhibition space, a new record was set. And with 435 world premieres, the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2018 once again surpassed the already very high figure from 2016.

The IAA 2019 attracted a total of over 560,000 visitors – well over half a million people. With over half a billion reach online, it is also by far the most important mobility trade show digitally. During the IAA 2019, the industry is also increasingly seeking dialog with car critics to discuss questions such as: What does the mobility of the future look like? How can traffic be made sustainable? What are the ways to provide access to climate-friendly, flexible, efficient and affordable mobility in urban and rural areas?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, IAA 2020 cannot be held in its usual form. The health risks and the associated measures to contain them have fundamentally changed the initial situation for the IAA Commercial Vehicles. To be sure, the Covid 19 pandemic has shown the public and many citizens in a special way how elemental commercial vehicles are to maintaining the public's livelihood. Economically, the industry, as well as the IAA, is being impacted as never before. Against this backdrop, the IAA Commercial Vehicles 2020, which was scheduled to take place in Hanover from September 24 to 30, has been canceled.

Mobility is in a state of upheaval. New drive systems and mobility carriers are expanding the transport mix in cities and rural areas. Hardly anyone doubts - in the next few years, the way we get from A to B will change more than it has in the past hundred years. And the IAA as an international platform for mobility is taking these developments into account: Instead of a classic car show, the focus of the new IAA MOBILITY will in future be on holistic mobility with fascinating innovations and technologies relating to the automobile and the entire mobility chain. The new concept also means a change in location: from 2021, the IAA MOBILITY will be held in Munich and no longer in Frankfurt.

The first IAA MOBILITY in Munich was a great success. The organizers, visitors and exhibitors were very satisfied with the new concept. Under the name IAA MOBILITY, the first platform for the mobility of the future brought together under one roof the most diverse modes of transport, from cars and bicycles to digital solutions and urban air mobility. 744 exhibitors and 936 speakers from 32 countries were represented at IAA MOBILITY, presenting and discussing their innovations and visions for the climate-neutral mobility of the future.

In total, IAA MOBILITY 2021 welcomed 400,000 attendees and 3,500 journalists from 95 countries. This means that the new IAA MOBILITY is 32 percent above the average number of daily visitors at the last IAA in Frankfurt, and this despite the Corona restrictions on international travel in 2021.