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The IAA Frankfurt Motor Show: A Brief History in Numbers

September 3, 2017

IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
The IAA Frankfurt Messe exhibition grounds with the ‘Messeturm’ in the background

In less than two weeks the IAA 2017 opens it’s doors! From the 12th until the 24th of September 2017 the Frankfurt trade fair is home to the 67th IAA Frankfurt Motor Show. With all this excitement in the air, we thought it fitting to delve into the show’s history a little bit…

Often casually referred to as the Frankfurt Motor Show, the International Motor Show Germany, or as it is known in German, the ‘Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung’ or IAA is the largest car show in the world.

It is held annually, but due to its size, it is split with only the passenger vehicles being displayed in odd-numbered years in Frankfurt (This year 2017), whereas commercial vehicles are on show in even-numbered years in Hanover, Germany.

IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
The IAA Frankfurt Motor Show

The passenger vehicle IAA event takes place at the Messe exhibition grounds in Frankfort and the show occupies 12 buildings totalling 252,000 square metres!

The first IAA was held at the Hotel Bristol in Berlin in 1897. As the automobile gained popularity among the general public, the IAA became a fixed event in Germany, with at least one held every year, usually in Berlin in those days.

The motor show has had some ups & downs over the years. When cars started being produced at industrial level from 1905 to 1907, there were two shows per year whereas shortly thereafter during World War I the show was suspended for many years only to be reinstated in 1921. This 12th IAA proved quite popular and featured 67 car manufacturers displaying 90 vehicles.

IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
In 1931, close to 300,000 visitors attended the IAA

Despite the still perceptible after-effects of the global recession, the 22nd IAA was held in Berlin in 1931, with a total of 295,000 visitors, and for the first time, the exhibition included front-wheel drive vehicles.

In 1939 the 29th installation of the event gathered a total of 825,000 visitors – an all-time record, just before it was suspended again due to the start of World War II.

In 1951 the show was held at the Messe show grounds in Frankfurt for the first time. The event attracted a total of 570,000 visitors, and from this date on the motor show was completely relocated to Frankfurt.

IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
The IAA Frankfurt Motor Show | Mercedes Exhibition Hall

1989 saw more than 1.2 million visitors attending the event, a new record at the time. This confirmed that the exhibition site in Frankfurt was now too small for such a major event and it was decided to split the IAA from then on. A focus was placed on passenger vehicles in odd years, and a focus on commercial vehicles in even years, a tradition still in place today.

The first IAA for ‘passenger cars’ only, held in 1991, was a great success with 935,000 visitors attending the event. In 1992 the first IAA for ‘commercial vehicles’ took place in Hanover, Germany and attracted a gathering 287,000 people.

In 2011 the 63rd IAA featured the all-new “Hall of Electric Mobility”, a first-timer to all Motor Shows worldwide. After almost 120-years, the IAA is still going strong. The previous (66th) ‘passenger car’ IAA held in 2015 had over 930,000 visitors attending the event in Frankfurt.

IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
The 2015 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show | Audi Exhibition Hall

Here are some IAA quick facts in numbers:

8 – Total vehicles on display at the first IAA
67 – This years’ iteration of the Frankfurt motor show
120 – Total years the IAA has been going on
1897 – The first IAA was held in Berlin
252,000 – Square metres over 12 Buildings makes up the Frankfurt exhibition space
950,000 – The average number of visitors to the Frankfurt event

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