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Automotive Industries interviews Thomas Aukamm, director of Automechanika

The biennial Automechanika Frankfurt will be held from the 14th to the 19th of September 2010 in Frankfurt, Germany. The event has already attracted immense interest with many of the exhibitors from the 2008 Automechanika Frankfurt making use of the Loyalty Price to register themselves. The Loyalty Price was offered from June 2009 for the first time by organizers Messe Frankfurt to companies that had taken part in the previous edition of the show. Up to 15 June, exhibitors at the previous Automechanika Frankfurt show could register at the same price per square meter as in 2008 if they booked a stand of the same size or bigger. Many national and international companies from the automobile sector have taken advantage of the Loyalty Price offered by Messe Frankfurt and booked their exhibition space for 2010.
“Taking part in leading international trade fairs seems to be essential even in times of budget cuts and consolidation. Despite the difficult economic situation, most companies are looking to the future and say that they want to be there when the international automotive sector meets in Frankfurt next year,” said Thomas Aukamm, director of Automechanika Frankfurt in a 2009 press release.

This year’s Automechanika Frankfurt will again honor outstanding new products and innovative solutions with the Automechanika Innovation Award. This award was instituted in 1996 and is given in nine categories including parts, systems, tuning, accessories, repair/diagnostics, repair/maintenance, IT and management, service station and car wash and the newly created segment OE products and services. The entries will be reviewed beforehand by a scientist from the Fraunhofer Institute. All award-winning products and the 4 runners-up will be on show in a special exhibition in the busy foyer of Hall 4.1 throughout the fair.

One of the new features at the 2010 Automechanika Frankfurt is the body-repair product group will be located in Hall 11.0 and generate optimum synergies with workshop equipment and tools, which are located in nearby Halls 8 and 9.0. Hall 11.1 will provide the new setting for products from the paintwork and corrosion-protection spheres. Distinguished by a complete absence of pillars, this exhibition hall offers lots of space for product presentations, especially for manufacturers of spray booths. Additionally, ‘Portalhaus’, the new entrance building adjoining Hall 11, will ensure an improved flow of visitors by enabling them to make a circular tour of Halls 11, 10, 9 and 8. Thus, many exhibitors who used to make their presentations in the renowned Hall 8 have also decided to book their stands at Automechanika 2010 in the new Hall 11.

The new Hall 11.1 is already fully booked up and there are just a few spaces still available in Hall 11.0. Registrations have already been received from key players in the sector, such as SATA, MIPA, Wolf Anlagen-Technik, Festool, Car-O-Liner, Carbon, Henkel and MAKRA. Messe Frankfurt says that numerous exhibitors, including Berner, Würth, WOLF Anlagen-Technik, Audatex, Sata, Mipa, Dinosaurier Werkzeuge Trading and CEBOTECH, have already booked their exhibition space. Other exhibitors include renowned companies from the parts trade, the aftermarket and the carwash business, such as Bosch, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein Tuning, Febi Bilstein, MAHA, Liqui Moly, Washtec, Ceccato, Chist and Istobal.

“As Automechanika exhibitors of many years’ standing, we are looking forward to the new Hall 11.1 where the body-repair and paintwork segments are together for the first time. The main beneficiaries will be trade visitors, many of whom use equipment from both segments. The new arrangement means they will be able to make their visits more effective and save time. For us, the concentration in one exhibition hall will lead to a further increase in the number of visitors and make the special show more attractive,” says Albrecht Kruse, General Manager of SATA GmbH & Co. KG

Adds Aukamm: “At a successful fair that has already been held 20 times, restructuring measures and new concepts are not automatically assured of the same success. Nevertheless, by cooperating with our exhibitors, we have been able to take a new step by bringing together the body-repair and Color Tec segments in the new Hall 11. And the number of registrations received so far shows that this was the right step to take.”

With the new strategy of focusing more on the paintwork and body-repair segments, the parent event, Automechanika Frankfurt, is set to resume its pioneering role as the leading event of the global Automechanika portfolio. “We will also give greater emphasis to attracting exhibitors from the body-repair and paintwork segments and bringing them closer together at our 13 Automechanika fairs outside Germany. Thus, all visitors will be certain of finding the same spectrum of products at all events – in Shanghai, Dubai, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and, from 2011, in Madrid no less than in Frankfurt,” says Stephan Kurzawski, brand manager of Automechanika and vice president of Messe Frankfurt.

The 2008 Automechanika Frankfurt, which was the 20th edition of the fair, attracted over 161,000 visitors from 146 nations to Frankfurt from 16 to 21 September 2008. At the show, 4,471 exhibitors from 80 countries presented their innovations. The first Automechanika Frankfurt was held in 1971 and today it is the world’s biggest trade fair for the automotive aftermarket. In addition to the original Frankfurt fair, Automechanika is held in a dozen locations across the world. The newest Automechanika fair will be held in Madrid from the 29th March to 2nd April 2011 in collaboration with Spanish trade fair company IFEMA. Called the Motortec Automechanika Ibérica, it will be the first event organized by Messe Frankfurt in Spain.

Automotive Industries spoke to Thomas Aukamm, director of Automechanika Frankfurt.

AI: What is the significance and impact of the new hall in terms of better display for exhibitors and better access for visitors?

The new exhibition hall brings together the paint and bodywork segments for the first time under one roof. This has indeed a really high significance for the whole service and workshop sector. Because visitors find everything around bodywork repair and painting products concentrated in one hall. Another benefit is the perfect location of hall 11 next to the new entrance building “Portalhaus”. Visitors arrive here with the shuttle bus and can directly enter hall 11.

AI: What are some of the other new features in this year’s Automechanika Frankfurt?

At this year’s Automechanika we have many highlights. One of the most important ones will be the Automechanika Aftermarket Forum, this year for the first time already starting at the first day and ending with one day specially dedicated to the electric mobility and alternative propulsion concepts. Due to internationality of our visitors and exhibitors the whole forum will be translated into English. The focus of the Automechanika Aftermarket Forum will be on service and dealership.
Introduced in 2008, the ‘Green Directory’ will 2010 once again guide visitors to emissions-cutting and sustainable products and services at the fair.

Another highlight is the traditional and internationally recognized Automechanika Innovation Award. In this year we will also have an own OE-Award for the first time. A premiere will be our first Automechanika rally with vintage and customized cars. Automechanika will also have a recruiting platform with different job portals. And, as a classic car fan I am really looking forward to our vintage car restoration show in hall 11.

AI: You are talking about OE: What kind of OEM involvement has there been in this year’s fair in Frankfurt?

We are really proud to say that this year BMW, after a long absence, will again participate at Automechanika Frankfurt. Their booth will be the located in the centre of hall 9.0. Other OEMs are Mercedes and the VW Group with Audi and other Volkswagen brands.

AI: Tell us about the focus of exhibitors in the electronics and environmental technologies segments.

The rising significance of electronic elements in vehicles has a huge impact on the whole industry. Because nearly every part or system nowadays depends on electronics. In the spare parts sector there are even first solutions with products for the hybrid technology. The influence of electronics can be seen at Automechanika in all five product groups. The same with environmental friendly technologies that also are represented in every product segment, for example Diesel filters, eco-tuning, environmental friendly painting technologies or remanufacturing parts. As you see, products and also processes are getting more and more environmental friendly.

AI: What is the anticipated exhibitor and visitor participation at this year’s Automechanika Frankfurt and what kind of geographical spread are you expecting?

For this year’s Automechanika we expect around 4,400 exhibitors out of 80 countries and more than 160,000 visitors from around 140 countries. On exhibitors side an internationality of 80% is predicted. And we expect 50% of visitors to come from abroad. These facts show again that Automechanika Frankfurt is the most international trade fair for the automotive industry.

AI: How has the global recession and recent automotive crisis impacted the fair and what are this year’s expected attendance compared to the Automechanika Frankfurt held two years ago?

We do not note any decreasing exhibitor registration. Until today over 95 % of the exhibition space compared to the last show are already booked. The crisis and the global slowdown basically hit the automobile manufactures and OE related branches. As Automechanika has its main focus on the aftermarket we are affected only indirectly. Nevertheless the year 2010 will not be a year of new visitor and exhibitor records. But we will have stable numbers. And what is even more important is that Automechanika holds his level of high quality. Thus, if the expectations of visitors and exhibitors match, the show was a success.

AI: How does Automechanika hold up and compare to other similar shows?

Although companies are confronted with internal cost-cuttings they concentrate their fair-budgets on the participation at Automechanika. As a result they cancel the participations at other, smaller trade shows. The industry trusts in the world’s leading trade fair of the automotive business. Nobody wants to miss Automechanika Frankfurt as their global platform.

AI: Why should companies choose Automechanika?

The largest benefit is the unparalleled breadth and depth of offered products at the fair. Nowhere else on the world you can find the whole industry being present at the same time at the same place. Coming to Frankfurt means to save yourself a trip around the world, instead of visiting dozens of national shows or customers which demands more time. And Automechanika is also famous for its wide range of innovations, especially in the aftermarket sector. Furthermore Automechanika is famous for its third-country-business. Here in Frankfurt international exhibitors from one continent are trading with international visitors from another continent. Another benefit is the large number of visitors with decision-making authority within their companies. So, exhibitors can be sure not only to have lots of contact but also the right ones with a high level of quality.

AI: Why is Automechanika Frankfurt seen as the mother show in the portfolio?

It is just logical that the mother is older than her children, isn’t it? Joking aside: Automechanika Frankfurt was held for the first time in 1971. Since then we recorded constant growth rates. The idea to get “children” came in the late 90s. We started to launch Automechanika shows outside Germany. In the meanwhile we have 14 Automechanika trade shows around the globe. So it is true when we say that Automechnanika Frankfurt is the mother show and also nucleus of success.

AI: How does it compare to the very successful Automechanika shows held in other regions – especially that held in Shanghai? Is Automechanika Frankfurt marketed differently from other Automechanika shows held elsewhere?

Indeed Automechanika Shanghai is the largest and most successful Automechanika trade show outside Germany. But our global shows have other aims than the Frankfurt show. We want to build regional and national platforms in different markets. That way our exhibitors gain visitor groups that do not come to Frankfurt. So, if a German workshop equipment manufacture wants to enter the market in Mexico he has to be present at PAACE Automechanika Mexico because there are his clients for this market. Thus, we do not cannibalize Automechanika Frankfurt. On the contrary: since the beginning of globalization of Automechanika brand we registered more visitors and exhibitors from the particular countries.

AI: Have there been any changes to the Automechanika Innovation Award this year? What impact has the award had on some of the previous winners?

Yes, we do have some changes. For the first time we will have an own OE category for the Innovation award. And we will not display all products from every application on the special show area in the foyer of hall 4.1. We rather focus on the winners of each category and the particular top four applications. The Innovation Award always has a huge impact on the winners. They receive a high reputation in the industry and wide press coverage. You can say that the investment in the innovation itself as well as in the participation at the Automechanika Innovation Award is more than worthwhile.

AI: Is Automotive Industries publication significant to the success and future growth of Automechanika?

Of course all publications help to increase visitor and exhibitor numbers and gain future growth, so does Automotive Industries.

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