What can we see at the dog and pony show? Understanding actors in the EV market based on exhibitor patterns at the largest battery trade shows

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Detroit (2022)


Megatrends such as climate change, growing urbanization, and technological developments have changed societal requirements and customer preferences towards mobility in the future (Wittmann 2017). Particularly in cities, where vehicle exhaust emissions are degrading air quality up to the point where the physical health of the population is directly threatened, green technology is greatly demanded and an increasing number of countries are reflecting this in their policy setting (Mordue 2020). Electric vehicles powered by renewable energies are considered an optimal solution to this challenge as they emit no exhaust fumes and are well suited to be integrated into new traffic management concepts (van Mierlo et al. 2006). Therefore, every major vehicle producer has announced new electrified models with some declaring that all their models will be electrified within less than half a decade (Pereirinha et al. 2018). While these announcements are predicted to lead to tetonic shifts in the automotive industry, it remains elusive how industry dynamics are actually developing and how industry policies are shaping the change.
Particularly, it is unclear from which industry sectors and countries companies are active in the EV market, from which sectors and regions companies are newly entering and which industry players respond to the EU policy changes with respect to electrification of the economy and reduction of emissions from cars (European Commission 2021). In addition, while the COVID-19 pandemic had caused a huge shock to the world economy, a strong impact on the automotive industry will produce effects on the reorganisation of the supply chains.
Electrification and post-COVID-19 impact call for specific sources of information to grasp the ongoing changes in the automotive supply chain.

Data and methods
To adress the analysis of such changes, we draw on an original dataset on exhibitors of the largest battery and electric vehicle trade shows in North America (held in Novi, Michigan, USA) and Europe (held in Stuttgart, Germany) in the years 2019, 2020 and 2021 (The Battery Show Europe; The Battery Show). Trade shows, “temporary marketplaces where suppliers from an industry or product group gather to showcase their products and services (Black 1986)”, are a well-established component of the promotional mix in B2B marketing (Rinallo et al. 2017). At trade shows, exhibitors and visitors are gathering to present and discover innovative products (Blythe 2002). This emphasis on innovation is particularly pronounced in the automotive industry (Sarmento et al. 2015). Events and the evolution of trade show platforms are reflections of global trends in their underlying industries (Bathelt et al. 2014; Golfetto and Rinallo 2015).
Using web scarping, a time efficient method for collecting thousands of data points automatically from online sources to develop novel data sets (Marres and Weltevrede 2013; Bradley and James 2019) that is already applied for scientific and commercial purposes in many areas (Edelman 2012), we built a detailed data set consisting of 1860 companies. This database was enriched using secondary data from Bureau van Dijk’s Orbis database (van Dijk 2022). Datasets employed in research by Russo et al. (Russo et al. forthcoming) were used to interpret the findings.

We find that the overall number of exhibitors after the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to prior to it, was reduced by 15% at the US trade show, while the number increased by 11% in Europe.
Companies in the non-ferrous metal casting, plastic products, and rubber product industries were less present throughout the observed period, while the exhibitors from the adhesives as well as chemical industries sharply increased. Surprisingly, the number of producers of fabricated metal products also increased (Our subsequent investigation showed that the respective companies accommodated their traditional product portfolio to a post-ICE-world by offering innovative materials for battery systems).
Regarding the country of origin, a clear trend towards producers from European countries was visible. While the number of exhibitors from the US remained stable (546 in 2019 and 549 in 2021), the number from Germany, GB, Italy, France, or Belgium rose by 33% to 61%. Interestingly, this is also apparent in the figures from East European Countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, or Belarus, which increased in 2020 and 2021, with some countries not being present before.
Our analysis of start-ups (we follow the ESM definition (Kollmann et al. 2016)) revealed that young companies were especially active in the manufacturing of batteries and accumulators (9%), engineering and technical consulting (6%), and R&D on natural sciences and engineering (4%). In contrast, established companies mainly originated from the manufacturing of measuring instruments (9%), manufacturing of electronic components (6%), and manufacturing of special-purpose machinery industries.
While most traditional market players originate from the US (51%), the share of US companies among the start-up group is 34%, with especially companies from China (7%) and GB (6%) becoming more prevalent. Strikingly, companies from India, Vietnam, Israel, and Ireland were only prevalent in the group of start-ups, companies from Japan only in the group of established firms.

These findings advance our knowledge about patterns in the electric vehicle value chain. By analysing data from trade shows, long highlighted as significant loci to catch ongoing transformations, we could show which companies from which industry sectors and countries are active in this field. Based on their presentation, we could identify which new players from which industry and country of origin are joining the field. The patterns of attendances have important implications for evaluating the impact of the pandemic and the impact of the EU policy changes, notably the European Green Deal.

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