Mayor and climate activists' absence cast shadow over Europe's largest auto show
Frankfurter Rundschau / Clean Energy Wire
Europe's largest auto show (IAA) in Frankfurt am Main is turning into a "PR fiasco" for the German car industry due to climate protests and now a dispute with hosting mayor Peter Feldmann, who had been cut from the programme as opening speaker, writes the Frankfurter Rundschau. Feldmann (SPD) had prepared a speech critical of the car industry, calling for a "mobility transition" in order to fight climate change, and expressing support for climate activists, reports the newspaper. "I want to be honest: Frankfurt needs more buses and trains, but not more SUVs," Feldmann had planned to say, according to the newspaper. After his removal, climate activists from Fridays for Future Germany cancelled a talk at the IAA with Bernhard Mattes, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), saying the VDA had "no real willingness for exchange". Meanwhile, Mattes has unexpectedly announced that he will step down as president of the VDA.
The German car industry has made considerable effort compared to previous years to seek dialogue with demonstrators at the IAA. BMW, Daimler and VW have put their sustainability ambitions at the centre of their presentations, but combustion engine sales will remain a key part of the carmakers' strategy for many years to come.