Do battery trade shows reveal a changing pattern in the automotive transition? An empirical analyisis of the dynamic attendance rate

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)


Companies already established or entering the field of electric car battery production represent key actors in the transition to electric vehicles. Identifying who the actors are is an important starting point for understanding the ongoing transition in the automotive market system. Without a standard classification of the overall boundary of the production of batteries, components and related infrastructures, we base our investigation on an original database created by analysing the list of participants in three of the most important battery trade fairs for electric vehicles. The specific questions addressed in the analysis are: Who are the companies involved in this industry segment? Where are they located? What is their field of specialization? What are their size and age? A preliminary version of this paper has been presented at the Gerpisa Colloquium 2022 (Acerbi et al. 2022), the present version updates information with the latest trade fairs in 2022 and presents a focus on attendance dynamic of multinational companies in the trade fairs.

Our investigation focuses on three tradeshows: The Battery Show North America (TBSNA) which took place in Novi (Michigan, USA), The Battery Show Europe (TBSE) taking place in Stuttgart (Germany) and the China International Battery Fair in Shenzhen (China) (CIBF). These events have been identified as the most important in terms of size and geographical relevance to the market and production sites.

The database encompasses information on companies participating as exhibitors at these trade fairs. The data were downloaded in two sessions (the first in January 2022, and the second in September 2022). The years selected in the study were from 2019 to 2022 for the two TBSs, and 2018 and 2021 for CIBF. The core analysis is the classification of companies' presence at the trade fairs, tracking their respective dynamics of each one against the ten events.

The raw data was implemented with data from ORBIS (BvD) on NACE codes, the size class of the companies and the year of establishment. An additional source of information draws on companies' websites to identify the type of company, i.e. whether it is an individual company or whether it is part of a group (national or international companies). All the headquarters of the companies being part of a group are recorded in the database.

Data availability limits the size of our database. As a matter of fact, Orbis has not information on all companies. Furthermore, CIBF is the largest fair in terms of number of participants, but cultural and language gap made it very difficult to find basic information on most of the companies (as most of the time it wasn’t possible to retrieve the company's websites). The number of companies that participated in this fair for which we have full information from Orbis is less than 10 %. For this reason, we decide to keep the two CIBFs separate and focus first and foremost on TBSs (in Europe and North America) for which all analysis will be reported from here on. A dedicated section focuses on the CIBF companies.

The overall number of participants at the TBSs is 2,286 and 946 headquarters. In the eight events (TBSNA and TBSE) full information from Orbis is available for 47%-66% of companies, accounting for 1,158 companies and 567 headquarters.

Both events (TBSNA and TBSE) show a growing trend in terms of attendance. The year 2022 proves to be the year with the most participation, with a growth of 6.7 per cent in Germany and 36.5 per cent in the US. For both locations, these figures correspond to the pre-pandemic with an 18.3% increase over 2019.

We keep track of the participants over time and location, assigning each company a participation code that corresponds to a certain attendance dynamic. The attendance dynamic has been classified under five main patterns: every year, almost all years, intermediate years, new, quit. The dynamic labelled as new happens to be the most recurring one with 38.2% overall, of which 26% correspond to companies that only in the last year showed interest in trade fairs. Among participants, 23.8% of companies maintain a high level of interest by attending trade fairs every year (11.8%) or almost every year (12%).

The largest share of participants, 59.3%, belongs to a group of companies.

The exhibitors come from 38 different countries. Participants at the German fair come mainly from European countries with a predominance Germany (53%), United Kingdom (7%), Italy (5%) and France (3.7 %); 8.4% of the companies came from the United States. At the US fair, US companies account for 78.5% and the United Kingdom is the second largest country, with 3.5% of the companies, followed by Canada with 2.9%. South Korea has shown strong interest in both event locations over the last year reaching 3.4% of participation in Europe and 2.68% in US.

When analysing the headquarters companies present at trade fairs, the majority, 33%, comes from Germany and 29% from the USA. Japanese groups represent 7.4% of participants, Swiss groups 4.2% and UK groups 3.8%.

The analysis of the economic activity codes of the participants reveals a heterogeneous set of activities of the different enterprises. Where battery manufacturers account for only 3.3% of the companies with a decline in participation from 5.4% in 2019 to 2.2% in 2022. There is a large presence (15.4%) in the manufacture and repair of machinery and equipment and (11.6%) in the manufacture of computers, electronic and optical products and electrical equipment. A significant share of 9.3% is represented by the research scientific and technical activities.

The research provides a picture of the protagonists in this changing scenario, identifying who participates and what the actor’s dynamic. Defining who the characters are and their attributes, in this narrative of technological change, is the starting point for understanding the future developments.

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