Automobile Barcelona shifts into gear as doors open to public

Trade fair returns to Montjuïc with 23 automakers present and electric and hybrid vehicles center stage

Visitors attend Automobile Barcelona 2021 on Reina Maria Cristina Avenue, October 2, 2021 (Automobile Barcelona)
Visitors attend Automobile Barcelona 2021 on Reina Maria Cristina Avenue, October 2, 2021 (Automobile Barcelona) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

October 2, 2021 04:44 PM

The Automobile Barcelona trade fair has opened its doors to the public this Saturday morning, welcoming a "large influx" of enthusiasts, buyers and families, according to event organizers.

A total of 23 car makers are participating in this year's show, including BMW, Renault, Seat and Nissan, alongside another ten companies from the mobility sector, with electric and hybrid vehicles taking center stage.

After two days aimed at industry professionals and the press, vehicle lovers are now able to enjoy the exhibition, taking place at Fira Barcelona at the foot of Montjuïc until October 10.

One of the main attractions of the fair so far has been the boxes located on the streets outside the venue, which have allowed members of the public to try out vehicles – from family cars to sports cars – on the iconic Montjuïc circuit.

'The excitement returns'

The slogan for this year's event is 'The excitement returns', alluding to the fact that the 2020 edition was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"After the times we have lived through, which have been very hard, arriving here with a showroom with 23 car brands, the first in Europe after the pandemic and with 13 new models is the story of a miracle," said Enrique Lacalle, president of Automobile Barcelona.

His team have been reluctant to set targets for attendance numbers or sales, focusing instead on celebrating the fact that the event is able to go ahead in relatively normal circumstances, adding to the show's 102-year history.

Visitors to the trade show do not have to provide a negative Covid-19 test or show proof of vaccination to enter, as the site is governed by the same rules as shopping centers and organizers say there is plenty of room to meet social distancing measures.

There are 20 fewer brands participating this year compared to 2019, with Volkswagen, Ferrari and Porsche some of the manufacturers absent. Organizers say this is due to the health crisis and a lack of budget for fairs this year, and claim there is a willingness to return to the motor show in the future.

Given the success of the first day open to the public, Lacalle said that the show "places Barcelona back as a world motoring capital."

Protests at royal presence

As has been the case on each and every one of the King of Spain's visits to Catalonia over the past few years, Felipe VI's presence at the opening of the fair on Thursday was greeted with republican and pro-independence protesters.

Largely peaceful, demonstrators cut off Plaça Espanya square to traffic, waved 'estelada' flags, and held banners that read 'Catalonia has no king'. Two Spanish flags were burned.

Catalan president Pere Aragonès did not attend the inaugural event due to a parliamentary debate but he did send a representative of his pro-independence coalition government. Spanish president Pedro Sánchez was also present.