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Motor shows are back, then. We haven’t missed the silly-hour airport arrivals, the firm hotel mattresses or the criminally weak teas, but boy have we missed being at the events themselves, poring over the headline-baiting new cars and raiding the brains of those who brought them there.
The Munich motor show this week was the first full-scale international motor show held on European soil since Frankfurt in September 2019 – and in the interlude we have been somewhat restricted in terms of our physical access to crucial new metal and high-level company executives. Zoom and Skype calls are fantastic for added insight but can’t quite replicate the invaluable experience of a face-to-face interview on the show stand.
So, while every motor show is absolutely mission-critical for the Autocar news desk, Munich had that extra hint of anticipation behind it in the run-up, which – it’s worth saying – felt quite a lot shorter than usual, given the event itself seemed uncertain to go ahead as planned almost until we got on the plane. No sooner had the attending companies been confirmed than we were firing out interview requests and drawing up a list (of truly encyclopedic length) of questions for the company representatives that were due to appear and present.
As is always the case with a motor show such as this, it was absolutely crucial to have enough feet on the ground for the event itself. Messe Munich isn’t quite as incomprehensibly colossal as its counterpart in Frankfurt, but we still had double-digit reveals to cover, easily double that number of cars to photograph and more interviews to schedule than a showrunner on Desert Island Discs. Four writers, a roving photographer and a press-room-based picture editor had us covered, but there still wasn’t going to be time for a particularly leisurely lunch break. I'd be surprised if snapper Olgun wasn't still there, frantically hunting down that elusive microcar from a German start-up or trying to capture the sheer scale of the grille on the Mercedes-Maybach Concept EQS.
But during an event of this scale, the most time-critical and unrelenting work is carried out by those back at base in the UK, who paradoxically can often have a far clearer overview of the show than those who are actually there. Effective social media coverage, picture editing, story writing and website management are absolutely essential to ensure our coverage is as comprehensive and accessible as it possibly can be, and to give our readers as great an understanding of the cars as we get from standing next to them. Fortunately, 2021 being what it is, most of the press conferences at Munich were broadcast live online, thereby ensuring nearly equal access to all members of the Autocar team, and saving a bundle on pre-flight lateral flow tests.