FRANKFURT -- The future of the Frankfurt auto show in its present form is in doubt after automakers criticized its format and some key players skipped the event, which was opened to the public by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
Automakers are discussing a new concept that would place more emphasis on mobility rather than new cars, Handelsblatt newspaper reported. The show could also tour different German cities, the paper said.
Among automakers that are absent from this year's show are Toyota, Peugeot, Citroen, Nissan, Kia, Volvo, Ferrari and all Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ brands
Some car companies that have stands at the show this year have scaled down their presence.
"The importance of motor shows has changed. In the future, the focus will have to be less on the product and more on the technology," Nicolas Peter, BMW's finance chief, was quoted as saying by Handelsblatt.
BMW cut its show space and budget by almost two thirds this year and Daimler reduced its exhibition space for its Mercedes and Smart brands by 30 percent, Handelsblatt said.
The number of exhibitors fell this year by 20 percent to around 800 and the exhibition area was reduced by 16 percent to 168,000 square meters, the paper reported.
Automakers and representatives of the VDA German auto industry association, which organizes the event, will meet to discuss future ideas for the show, Handelsblatt said.
The paper quoted outgoing VDA President Bernhard Mattes, a former head of Ford Germany, as saying that the association is working with its member companies to develop the show's positioning. Mattes resigned unexpectedly this week in the midst of the show and will leave his post by the end of the year.
The VDA did not respond to an email from Automotive News Europe seeking comment on Handelsblatt's report.
Former Opel CEO Karl Thomas Neumann believes the show will not survive past this year. He tweeted that this year's show is only a "sad shadow" of what it once was. He predicted that there will not be a show in 2021, the next scheduled date for the event, which takes place every two years.