“Digital, urban, electric, autonomous.” That’s how I would summarize my own personal highlights of the IAA 2017. On a fundamental level, these trends are not new and people have been discussing a mind shift in the auto industry for some time now. Today, it feels like we are no longer in the midst of change but have already come out on the other side. The future of mobility is just around the corner – and will hopefully pull into our garages soon. Well, maybe by 2030.


A mere glance at this year’s IAA participants reveals that digitalization has become an inherent part of the car industry. Google, Facebook, SAP and Qualcomm were just some of the names with booths at the event. Following the theme “New Mobility World,” enthralling talks were held on topics like real time mapping, connected cars, platform economy and road safety. The internet has conquered the domain of the car and now plays an increasingly essential role in many driving functions that help passengers arrive quicker and more easily at their destination. Meanwhile, the mode of transportation is losing importance. Advancements in digitalization have given rise to a whole new model of connected modes of transportation. Be it public, private or – in the case of car sharing – a combination of both.


In the city of the future, agile compact cars will transport multiple passengers heading to the same place. It will be organized on a mobile app, and riders split the cost. In case one car isn’t enough, a second one is simply ordered. Inside the car, there are various ways to customize the driving experience. By pressing a button or using voice commands, you can listen to your top tunes or have the car stop by your favorite restaurant.


Electro mobility is growing – slowly but surely. Most electric vehicles start as part of a study and only a few concepts made the leap to series production. Still, in the near future the majority of carmakers’ fleet will likely consist of electrically-powered cars or at least hybrids. Mass-production-ready and widely availably, gas-powered engines in stylish SUV shells will stick around for now.


Besides electric vehicles, self-driving cars should finally reach series production. Even if the market isn’t ready, the technology is and many suppliers already offer innovative, user-friendly solutions. In the future, the car should serve as a workplace or mobile living room in which you can comfortably sit back and enjoy a back massage or watch a movie. Driving itself will no longer play a big role – as long as the system is fully in control of the situation on the road.


The visions have been around awhile, the technology is there and buyers long for innovative products. But new, improved mobility concepts for everyday Joe are not available in daily life. Leaving a lasting impression on trade fair visitors takes more than showing a study and claiming that something will, in the future, transport you emissions-free and driverlessly to your destination. People today want to experience it. Demonstrating courage and readiness to take risks play just as much a part as the actual willingness to change. We can only hope that the industry will accelerate to make some of these dreams a reality – before 2030.

Fotos: Heyong Chen