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Barcelona’s Motor Show reinvents itself to keep up with MWC: Volkswagen bows out, Tesla comes on board

It will be the American carmaker’s first time at the show, which also sees the return of Toyota

Barcelona’s International Motor Show has reinvented itself this year with a new philosophy, in an attempt to become a world leader in new technologies for the automotive industry. Nevertheless, it has failed to attract the Volkswagen Group’s major brands, Volkswagen and Audi, although Seat will be present.

Despite these notable absences, Tesla will participate in the Barcelona-based show for the first time. It runs from 11 to 21 May at the Montjuïc exhibition centre. On Wednesday the organizers also confirmed that this year Toyota will re-join the major brands, after being absent in recent years. The exhibition expects to receive more visitors than last year, when 75,000 attended.

The Motor Show’s President, Enrique Lacalle, lamented Volkswagen’s decision not to attend. "We’ve spoken to them, but they won’t be coming due to internal reasons", he stated. Nonetheless, he was delighted by the manufacturers’ response to the Motor Show, declaring that "This year, for the first time, we haven’t had to chase after anyone".

Overall, the show has grown in size. At present, some 30 carmakers are slated to attend —36 attended the previous edition—. However, the number of companies in attendance rises to 90 when one takes into account the presence of suppliers and auxiliary firms, such as Ficosa, Bosch, Valeo among others, plus technology companies, including Google, Oracle, HP and IBM, as well as many others.

As a result, the exhibition space in the Montjuïc exhibition centre will increase by between 5 and 10 per cent to a total of 115,000 square meters. This does not include additional space for the Connected Hub, an area reserved for connected cars, according to Ricard Zapatero, the Fira de Barcelona’s international business director.

A fresh start

In recent years, European motor shows have become less influential, with manufacturers only choosing the Geneva and Frankfurt shows to unveil their new models. In response to this, Lacalle declared that the Barcelona Motor Show has reinvented itself, and has even changed its name to Automobile Barcelona.

Above all, it aims to lead the way in the emergence of new technologies in the industry and new models of mobility. Therefore, it will retain a traditional ‘motorshow’ area, where manufacturers can display their latest models, while also featuring the Connected Hub, a space in which to showcase new technologies.

Lacalle declared that Automobile Barcelona is "looking to the future with this new concept and philosophy", while highlighting that this commitment to new technologies, in the hands of Barcelona, the Mobile World Capital, will enable them to increase the number of exhibitors and the internationalization of the show.

The connected car section will host an international symposium to explore new business models related to the automotive industry and mobility with more than 70 speakers, including the President of Seat, Luca de Meo.

A second space within the Connected Hub, known as Innovation Square, will feature 25 industry start-ups, with the aim of putting entrepreneurs in touch with investors and large automotive corporations. The space has been launched in collaboration with 4YFN, a congress for tech start-ups run alongside the Mobile World Congress. It will also include an area known as Connected Street, where attendees can see demonstrations of the latest developments in the sector related to technology, such as self-driving cars.

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