By Pia Krix and Jens Meiners, Automotive News Europe
MUNICH - A dispute has broken out between some exhibitors at this year's IAA in Frankfurt and the event's organiser, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
The addition of a third press day on Monday, September 12, has angered both German and non-German automakers and suppliers.
When the VDA announced the extra press day, the major German manufacturers and their subsidiaries snapped up most of the Monday half-hour press conference slots. Japan's Mitsubishi was the only exhibitor not owned by a German company to get a Monday slot.
That means most of the international automakers will showcase their products to the world's press on Tuesday, September 13 and this has led to scheduling clashes as several automakers have overlapping press conferences.
Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Mazda are all holding press conferences at 10am Tuesday. Ferrari's press conference is at the same time as Peugeot's.
Ferrari filed a written protest with the VDA. The Italian sports carmaker said the scheduling clash would make it difficult to present its products to the thousands of media representatives who attend the show's press days.
Fiat Deutschland made an oral complaint to the VDA.
"We have switched times for Fiat and Lancia to get an open window for the Punto's world debut," said a Fiat source.
"We are not contesting the addition of an extra press day, even though it adds costs, but how the press conference calendar was set up," said a Fiat company spokesman in Turin.
Some German carmakers were also unhappy about the third press day.
"We have fought tooth and nail against this press day," said Volkswagen spokesman Hans-Gerd Bode, who said the additional day means more expense.
Some suppliers also are unhappy. Their press conferences have been shifted to the third press day when the show's press days wind down.
A source from a Tier 1 supplier said: "We are not happy about having three press days. Instead of having our press conference on the second day as planned, we now have it on the third day. Journalists will be packing up to go home and write their stories."
Some automakers will not have their stands finished when the show begins Monday. That's not a problem for the German carmakers, which have their own halls. But it is for companies like Mitsubishi and Webasto.
Journalists going to Monday events will have to make their way past stands that are still under construction. The VDA says its personnel will guide visitors to the stands.
VDA spokesman Eckehard Rotter denied that the VDA's German members were favored.
"The companies that responded first got the Monday slots," he said. "If others had responded, they would have gotten the slots," he added. "We are an international show and all exhibitors are important to us."
The third press day was added to accommodate the busy schedule of German Chancellor Gerhard SchrÃ¶der, who is speaking before the United Nations General Assembly in New York Thursday, September 15. He would normally have attended the show on that day. Instead, he will open the show officially on Tuesday, September 13.
BMW communications director Richard Gaul said SchrÃ¶der's Tuesday appearance could be a good thing for exhibitors.
He said: "The last big appearance for the chancellor will bring media attention like never before."
- Luca Ciferri contributed
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