EVU Special: ⚡EVs at IAA MOBILITY, coverage by Nikita
Caution! High Voltage ⚡
Hey, Jaan here.
I promised to send a special issue on the IAA Mobility event, which took place in Munich earlier this month.
I couldn’t go.
But, lucky for us, one of my good friends that I’ve gained during these EV Universe years, Nikita, was there and willing to report back to us.
I’ll let him take over the whole thing. Please let me know via the poll in the end, if you enjoyed this and if we should make him our very own EVent correspondent!
Take it away, Nick!
For most of my professional life, I’ve been building services at the intersection of Software x Mobility x Energy. Currently, I’m building driverless products at Faction by day.
On weekends, I’m doing semi-pro racing on anything I can get my hands on (preferably electric).
It’s my first time at IAA - 2023, and well, where do I start… It’s a huge event spanning 7 pavilions, which got me logging 35 km in 3 days.
The opening day was heralded by actress Natalie Portman, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (or Captain Olaf Scholz), and the Transportation Minister.
In other words, it’s a big deal of an event.
I’m reflecting on the conference in 3 categories: legacy OEMs, up-and-coming EV brands, and some random observations I’m walking away with.
Note: The exhibition had two segments: Munich's central square for the public and an expo for business. I primarily attended the expo, so my reflections may be biased toward an experience designed for business visitors.
TLDR; astonishingly underwhelming. In addition to vehicles, most brands showcased charging solutions and their app ecosystem, illustrating the 360-degree experience of owning an EV.
Mercedes unveiled the C111 concept vehicle featuring in-wheel motors, a technology they aim to mainstream in production cars.
The center of attention was the electric CLA concept, which warranted the construction of a giant cube in Munich city center.
Moreover, they displayed an electric Mercedes E-class hybrid, adopting the pillar-to-pillar display from the EQS models. While looking quite spectacular, it seemed quite unpractical as the dash was a forensic expert's dream - thoroughly cataloging an array of greasy fingertips from across the globe.
Mercedes MBUX UI is quite responsive and appealing, not much to report here.
Volkswagen was a pure disappointment. They brought a bunch of regular EV models, like ID. 3 and ID. Buzz. The new all-electric ID. 7 looks sharp on the exterior, but the infotainment system had around 200 ms time lag with every interaction I threw at it. The control panels and combination of physical vs. touch buttons were so confusing that I had to sit there with the seat heat on.
Renault showcased the electric Renault Scenic. It has one of the best interior designs I’ve interacted with, accompanied by a very smooth infotainment system.
BMW floor looked like they still deny electrification. Which they sort of are?
They unveiled the “cardboard” looking BMW Vision New Class concept EV from ultralight materials:
Opel showed electric Astra, which does or does not feel good for its sticker price. I couldn’t decide.
Audi had a large pavilion at the retail section, showing e-tron GT, which didn’t change a bit since I tested it in the Barcelona Catalyna track 2 years ago. Their old school rear seat vents triggered brutal “Ventgate” on Twitter (ehm, X).
They also unveiled the Audi Active Sphere electric concept car and didn’t hesitate to put it on billboards all across the city - it’s literally the first thing you see exiting the airport.
NEW EV BRANDS
BYD’s floor was literally packed. They exhibited an entry-level Dolphin and Seal, which they consider a Tesla Model 3 competitor.
Most of the test drives offered by BYD got booked out almost instantly.
I was lucky to get the no-show spot to drive Seal around Munich — quite an impressive vehicle and a worthy Model 3 opponent. The interior felt like a blend of BMW and Lexus, unmistakably high-end. It's the only vehicle I've seen with vents specifically for wireless charging pads. Smart.
Tesla: Model 3 refresh, and Tesla Bot got most of the attention, obviously. Nothing new to report here in addition to what Jaan already covered in the M3 deep dive in the Teslaverse #4. Only that in real life, the interior finally feels sturdy and expensive.
HiPhi was one of the brands I’ve never heard about. They brought stunning EV into Munich airport, which contrasted quite metaphorically with Audi concept posters in the background. One is a production vehicle — another is just a render.
Leap Motor brought several compact EVs that they intend to ship to Europe in the near future.
In response to the ever-growing vehicle size, Micro EVs had quite a footprint at the expo. Most OEMs showcased compact EV variants for urban dwellers. Floors of micro EV first brands like Microlino and XEV saw a steady interest from the public.
Chinese EV brands (and Tesla, of course) were the elephant in every room.
Most side events had speakers addressing the rising competition from China, displaying confidence that their “dedication to innovation”, brand clout, and long history will help them keep loyal customers.
While at the summit, it wasn’t obvious if you were in Munich or an Asian megapolis, such large were Asian crowds.
After 4 days of boot camp EV experience, my amateur take on the outlook for the EV industry is this — Chinese brands will dominate entry and medium price levels of EVs in Europe, while the high-end sector will be still fixed for legacy OEM with brand loyalists and, of course, Tesla.
Cars have become a new battleground for farming users' attention - software giants like Google produced extensive presentations and panels at the conference. While OEMs boasted they own the relationship with car owners and plan to upsell them to the very last drop.
Most OEMs realize that vehicle utilization is a single-digit % in urban settings, hence increasingly considering Car-as-a-Service ownership models. This is also where autonomous and driverless companies have been positioning themselves as essential enabling tech.
That’s it from me. Thank you for reading!
Jaan here again. I don’t know about you, but I feel Nikita delivered way more than I expected. Thank you! This newsletter went out to 4,045 subscribers.
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