HANNOVER REPORT, PART TWO

Rolf Lockwood

October 8, 2008 Vol. 4, No. 21
Last time out I offered a preliminary report after the first of two press days at the huge IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hannover, Germany late last month. It was a bit rushed, a bit rough – that’s what happens with hotel-room journalism – and necessarily incomplete. Subsequently I had the chance to attend more press conferences and visit more of the exhibitors, but there sure isn’t space here to tell the whole story. I’ll have to string this out for a while.

I always marvel at the size of this bi-annual show, now in its 62nd year, which truly dwarfs anything in North America, because it’s so thoroughly international. Europe, not North America, is the source of most of the rest of the world’s trucks, so the IAA sees a veritable swarm of motor noters from all corners of the earth. That’s one of the things that makes this show so much fun, and I find it a great pleasure to compare notes with truck writers from India and Japan and Brazil and Bulgaria and you name the place. Language struggles aside, we’re not so very different, of course.

Just a couple of notes on the show’s size — 2084 exhibitors, 30% up on the 2006 event, with nearly 300,000 visitors from 110 countries, which was 12% more than last time and set a new record. There were exhibitors from 48 countries, three more than before, and they offered 258 world product premieres. Of the 2084 exhibitors (up by 34%) a total of 1188 came from abroad, a hike of 52%.

Most telling is another figure — the proportion of what the organizers call “professional” visitors was around 94%, and three out of four of them were decision-makers. In fact, according to the German Association of the Automotive Industry, which runs the show, among the foreign visitors the decision-maker figure was nine out of 10. The show is clearly not a tire-kicker’s event.

So, while the truck markets in Europe and India and China and even Brazil may be shrinking, though not yet as much as in North America, you wouldn’t know it in Hannover. In fact, the mood was decidedly buoyant.

AMONG THE HAPPIEST FOLKS were those from Daimler Trucks because they won the European Truck of the Year award for 2009. The Mercedes-Benz Actros, which was shown to the world in its revised form early this past spring, has actually won this prize in all three of its variations since the original introduction in 1996.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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