2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-27 05:39
When the Geneva Motor Show starts on Tuesday, the second edition of Shift Automotive will take place there. In an interview with Autogazette, IFA Director Jens Heithecker talks about why a new mobility conference is needed.
As Heithecker said, the Shift is “a new format for both the needs of the automotive and digital industries”. The Shift, conceived with colleagues from the Geneva Motor Show, takes place twice a year. In March at the Geneva Motor Show and in September at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) in Berlin.
“We want to bring IFA together with classic car manufacturers and mobility service providers. We don't just focus on technologies, we mainly talk about the benefits for the customer,”said Heithecker. As the IFA director added, it had become clear in recent years “that mobility will also be increasingly networked. It therefore makes sense to bring these topics together at IFA ».
Have looked less at the classic auto shows
Autogazette: The classic auto shows are becoming less important. Is that the reason why you and your colleagues from the Geneva Motor Show launched Shift?
Heithecker: We paid less attention to the classic auto shows, which are still focused on the fascination of the automobile. But that is not the IFA's approach.
Autogazette: What is the IFA approach?
Heithecker: In the past few years, IFA has developed into the trade fair for connected life. Networking can be found everywhere. Be it at home or on the go. For several years it has become clear that mobility will also be increasingly networked. It therefore makes sense to bring these topics together at IFA. Shift is a new format for both the automotive and digital industries.
Smart Home doesn't stop at the front door
Autogazette: So the smart home topic played an important role?
Heithecker: Indeed. But smart homes don't stop at the front door. We're talking about smart cities where traffic is an integral part - and we're not just talking about cars here. Mobility means more than a car. It also means linking the smart device with all other mobility offers.
Autogazette: What should the Shift stand for?
Heithecker: We want to bring IFA together with classic car manufacturers and mobility service providers. We don't just focus on technologies, we mainly talk about the benefits for the customer.
Autogazette: Is the previous trade visitor interested in this topic?
Heithecker: Who is the classic visitor to IFA? There is no such thing. Less than half of the visitors are consumers, the majority are trade visitors and more than half of them come from abroad. This means that the IFA as a trade fair is larger than the CES. If you look at our major exhibitors, many of them have been in the automotive industry for a long time. I'll just mention Panasonic, a company that also deals with smart cities. We are not going against the DNA of the IFA here; the issue only becomes more visible with the shift.
Bring representatives of the digital industry to Geneva
Autogazette: Would you have launched Shift without the success of CES?
Heithecker: Without question, CES made it possible for the auto industry to proclaim its digital messages. CES did a great job. On the other hand, many issues affecting the electronics industry have faded into the background. Some exhibition stands at CES are very reminiscent of a car exhibition stand. We don't see this as useful. That is why we believe that with the Shift, together with the Geneva Motor Show, we will reach industries faster and better. And when we go to Geneva in March, we will bring topics from the IFA digital fair to a classic auto show.
Autogazette: What will you take with you to Geneva?
Heithecker: We're bringing representatives from the digital industry to Geneva to talk to the car guys about digital mobility. This will be a conference format that will be an important addition to the digital orientation of the automobile fair.
Autogazette: Why did you choose Geneva and not the IAA?
Heithecker: The automobile fairs in Europe are the responsibility of the national automobile associations. As IFA, we are highly international - and the organizer structure in Geneva is similar. Accordingly, we do not have to orientate ourselves on national interests.
Don't see what we have in our own country
Autogazette: Do you see the Shift as a European alternative to the CES?
Heithecker: We have long been. There are three relevant digital trade fairs internationally: CES, Mobile World in Barcelona and IFA. We are also perceived by the CES as a global competitor. In the auto industry, however, the image of IFA is still shaped by the radio exhibition. There are reservations that we must gradually resolve. We Germans are sometimes a bit schizophrenic: We don't see what we have in our own country and therefore try to position ourselves well elsewhere.
Autogazette: What are your objectives with regard to the number of exhibitors at Shift?
Heithecker: We were surprised ourselves that we received such great feedback for the setting of the topic right at the premiere, especially because we did not see the usual suspects as speakers. At the first event, a pure conference, we had 400 visitors, 40 visitors from Japan alone. We want to promote the Shift with the IFA's broad cross, but the Shift is independent. We want to establish the Shift quickly now. That could happen all the more dynamically because we hold Shift twice a year, in Geneva and Berlin. It will be exciting to see how the auto industry wants to reach its customers in the future. Via the classic auto show or trade fairs like Shift.
The consumer continues to like the car
Autogazette: The car expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer had called the car show in Detroit a funeral convention. Do you still see a future for the classic auto shows?
Heithecker: I am opposed to talking classic auto shows to death. You can also see one or the other digital trade fair in trouble. It's about the issues, but above all about the concept. The consumer continues to like the car, the car industry is still innovative. It's still about emotions. And the more there is digital communication, the more important it becomes to get the human together. The classic auto show will be a different fair, there will be different topics. It is not enough to say that we are going digital now.
Autogazette: The IFA Shift takes place at the same time as the IAA press days. Don't you score yourself an own goal with that?
Heithecker: It's certainly not entirely happy. But the IFA takes place at this point in time. You also have to see that the IAA only takes place every two years. Let's make the best of it: The current date enables our trade visitors to take a detour to the IAA.
Autogazette: Is n't the New Mobility World doing the same at the IAA as the Shift?
Heithecker: You know from the trade fair business that there are a large number of events. Sometimes they are discussed aloud in the media, but when you look at how they approach the issues, it is limited to specific target groups. We want to take the topic out of the technical field, we want to play new topics. With the IFA we can put the topic in a global context. For us, it doesn't stop with the car.
Frank Mertens conducted the interview with Jens Heithecker
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