The IAA had its own autonomous shuttle bus driving through Munich during the event.
While there’s still debate over what sensors are required to delivery high levels of autonomous driving, there’s no let up from suppliers to provide as many options as possible. Even though some car makers are betting on setups that only use cameras, that’s not a universal trend. LiDAR, radarand ultrasonic sensors are still very much on the scene.
What’s more, robotaxi test services that will take to the streets of Germany were announced, whether they will be successful remains to be seen. Siemens announced an autonomous charging system for electric cars. VW and Argo AI also showed off its ID Buzz self-driving commercial vehicle, which is already being tested.
Importantly though, much of this talk was rooted in visions of the future. While hardware might be physical, the reality of true autonomous driving, remains elusive.
There’s a lot of talk about electric vehicles, but combustion engines are far from dead
With many governments in the developed world looking to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles in the next decade there is increasing demand for electric vehicles.
Indeed, this was reflected at IAA and subsequently in the media that covered the event. BMW’s circular concept car was unveiled and gained a significant amount of attention. As did ACM’s swappable battery urban microcar, the City One. Renault also talked about its dream for an electric future, unveiling its Megane E-Tech, and its R5 prototype.
Most of Top Gear’s top 11 must know about cars from IAA are electrically powered too. Bloomberg Hyperdrive’s coverage of the event also focused predominantly on the electrified vehicles on show in Munich.
Given how the world is transitioning to zero emission vehicles, with many governments banning the sale of new gasoline vehicles in the next decade, an electric automotive future is inevitable. The reality, however, is that electric vehicles as the norm is still firmly “a thing” the future.
As Sarah Schweiger, TomTom’s PR manager for Germany tells me, “there is a lot of talk about EVs, but car makers are still pushing combustion engines.”
“Overall, you see more statements of intent than reality.”
Indeed, we shouldn’t be too surprised. This is a motor show after all, and these events have always been the places where car companies show off their vision, their belief of the future, and their intent.
Sadly, it’s going to take time and a lot of effort to transition fully to zero tailpipe emission vehicles. The big positive to come out of IAA, however, is that affordability is a growing theme for the EV world.
VW unveiled its ID.Life concept, a more affordable electric car designed to do everything we need a car to do without excess. It’s slated for sale in 2025 and will cost around $25,000. While that is quite a bit cheaper than the crop of current EVs, it’s twice what the cheapest cars start from. It’s a step in the right direction, but to bring EVs to the masses more still needs to be done.