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English   A historical review: The International Automobile Show (IAA) and Mercedes-Benz
18.09.2010 von admin

In 1907 the cars were separated from the commercial vehicles. The International Automobile Fair took place from December 5 to 15, and the International Commercial Vehicle Fair from December 19 to 22. The reason given for this organizational change was the large demand for exhibition space. However: “Owing to slow business activity and the costs involved in attending trade fairs, a distinct loss of enthusiasm made itself felt, with the result that no automobile fairs were held for the next three years”, the magazine "Motor" reported in 1924.

The exhibitors having sought to outdo each other with more and more ostentatious stand decorations in the early years, with resulting explosion in costs, a move was made to standardize the stands for the IAA in October 1911. New guidelines by the fair organizers were to produce a more informative overall picture, enabling the visitors to concentrate on what was important – namely the cars.

This 13th IAA was nonetheless an illustrious event for Benz, although for another reason: Prince Heinrich of Prussia remained loyal to the automobiles from Mannheim, and once again ensured that the company had much-admired display models to show at this, the last IAA before the First World War. The Prince’s new, dove-grey 29/60 hp Torpedo Phaeton attracted great public attention, as did the car owned by his wife, “the extremely elegant 14/30 hp limousine landaulet”, as a newspaper wrote. Other vehicles shown by Benz included the 200 hp record-breaking car, which held the world speed record at 228.96 km/h. In addition to three more cars on the Benz stand, another 20 Benz models were displayed on the stands of other exhibitors.

As for delivery vans, the Mannheim company was obliged to restrict itself to a single exhibit owing to lack of space – the perennial problem of the IAA; for the same reason no trucks at all were displayed at the 13th IAA. This problem was to be resolved by the construction of a 17,000 square meter exhibition hall located on Kaiserdamm; however, the official inauguration planned for autumn 1914 came to nothing – the country was at war.
Poster of the IAA 1907

The First World War as a watershed

In the years leading up to the First World War, the automobile had already begun its march to victory in Germany: by 1911 approximately 55,000 motor vehicles and motorcycles had been registered in Germany. In 1912 there were 124 automobile manufacturers employing around 36,000 people. In 1914 German manufacturers were able to offer 217 different car models, 11 different electric vehicles and 82 different truck models.

The first post-war IAA – the 14th since counting began – was held on the new exhibition site in Berlin. The situation of the German automobile industry was characterized as “bloodied but unbowed” in the opening speech. In terms of exhibitors the automobile exhibition was a purely national event, for “there is no such thing as internationality at present”, as the "Allgemeine Automobil-Zeitung" opined on September 23. Having lost the war, Germans were not permitted to take part in fairs abroad, so the doors of exhibitions in Germany were also closed to foreign exhibitors. There were still foreign visitors, however, as German cars were comparatively inexpensive: inflation was putting the German Mark under great pressure at the time, and foreign exchange was correspondingly welcomed by manufacturers. Conversely, the main concern of customers was whether the cars they had ordered would actually be delivered, as strikes were a daily occurrence in the turbulent years of the early 1920s.

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