One of the largest ‘global auto expo’ shows commenced in Munich on Monday, marking Tesla’s return after a decade-long hiatus.
The event witnessed a fierce electric vehicle (EV) battle between Tesla and Chinese manufacturers, highlighting the race for electric dominance. Chancellor Olaf Scholz is set to officially inaugurate the IAA mobility show, a biennial event in Germany, on Tuesday.
However, the press preview on Monday served as a sneak peek for car enthusiasts eager to see the new models soon hitting the roads.
This week’s fair focuses on the industry’s shift towards electric vehicles, with Chinese automakers making a strong presence as they target the European market.
US electric car pioneer Tesla, under the leadership of Elon Musk, returns to the IAA for the first time since 2013 and is expected to unveil an updated version of its popular Model 3.
Tesla’s participation signals its seriousness in facing the mounting competition, as Jan Burgard from the Berylls automotive consulting group stated.
According to Burgard, the electric car market is expected to witness intense competition among new players in the coming years, prompting questions about what each company has to offer.
Having gained a substantial share of the Chinese market, Chinese startups now seek to entice European consumers with affordable electric cars.
The manufacturers are launching their European campaign at the IAA, capitalizing on lower production costs to offer competitive prices, especially when entry-level EVs remain a rarity.
Volkswagen CEO Oliver Blume admired China’s rapid advancements in electric car technology and stressed the crucial nature of VW’s success in China’s domestic EV market, where it lags behind Chinese companies BYD and Tesla.
With 41% of exhibitors headquartered in China, including brands like BYD, Leapmotor, and Geely, the IAA sees a strong Asian presence.
In contrast, participation from European carmakers remains limited, with Germany’s Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz being joined by France’s Renault, while the 14-brand Stellantis Group is represented solely by Opel.
BMW showcased its ‘Neue Klasse’ (New Class) generation of electric cars in Munich, a series of six vehicles slated for production in 2025.
European automakers are heavily investing in the transition to zero-emission driving, aligning with the European Union’s goal to end the sale of polluting combustion engine cars by 2035.
Despite improving car sales in the EU over the past year, they still linger around 20% below pre-pandemic levels, affected by inflation and higher interest rates, which dampen the appetite for new vehicles.
This week’s IAA is expected to attract approximately 700,000 visitors.
Climate groups have pledged to stage protests, including acts of ‘civil disobedience’ to disrupt the fair.
On Monday morning, Greenpeace activists submerged three cars in a small lake near the convention center, emphasizing concerns over the automotive industry’s environmental impact.