IAA Mobility: New role for suppliers

Status: 10.09.2021 4:58 p.m.

At the IAA Mobility in Munich, many things are different than at the earlier IAA in Frankfurt. Not only the many stands in the city center – the focus on suppliers is also new.

At the IAA Mobility, car manufacturers and major suppliers meet on an equal footing. While the car companies occupied the halls with their shiny vehicles and shows at the earlier IAA in Frankfurt, the suppliers were hidden away on the first floor.

“That is certainly due to the fact that the IAA was invented as a ‘b2c trade fair'”, says exhibitor Bernd Welzel – in other words, as a show where you exhibit in order to be seen. “Cars were sold there, it was a horsepower show, it always went to the end customers. The industry behind it, we played far too little at the IAA.” That is different now in Munich. The suppliers are now also represented in the halls: the really big ones like Bosch, Schaeffler, Continental and ZF next to companies like Mahle, Brose and Webasto from Stockdorf near Munich.

Everyone is talking about e-mobility

At the suppliers, too, it is primarily about electromobility, explains Webasto CEO Holger Engelmann: “We decided to switch to electromobility in 2015, we have invested a lot, the order situation is good, we will soon be opening a large battery plant in Korea, we see that the investments are beginning to bear fruit. ” Depending on the order situation, they also want to build a battery factory in Europe, Engelmann continued.

At the IAA, Bosch announced that electromobility would become the company’s core business. Schaeffler and Continental will also be showing many innovations relating to alternative drives at the trade fair. You have already experienced some challenges and difficult times and you are still there, stronger than before, said Conti boss Nicolai Setzer at the start of the trade fair.

The suppliers are in an even bigger transformation than the manufacturers, says the auto expert Stefan Bratzel. There are many suppliers who have specialized in certain technologies – including those relating to the internal combustion engine. “It is extremely difficult to achieve a change here,” says Bratzel. Many companies have problems tying up skills in the field of electromobility or software. “That makes the transformation of the automotive suppliers more difficult.”

The turnaround in traffic demands a lot from companies

The transformation is particularly affecting small and medium-sized suppliers who specialize in combustion engines and who lack the financial means to invest in change. But the large companies are also shedding numerous jobs in certain areas and have already announced some site closings.

“Change takes time, and time is scarce when it comes to climate protection,” warns Bosch managing director Stefan Hartung. “All the more we have to win people over to sustainability. Those who want to protect the ecological climate must not lose sight of the social climate.”

Many have their doubts that the automotive industry is the right contact for sustainability. Numerous protests and tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected again over the weekend – and not only manufacturers are thinking about how to protect their stands with security personnel, but now also suppliers.

IAA – suppliers in transition

Gabriel Wirth, BR, 9/10/2021 4:32 p.m.

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