Given the current auto industry state of play, a slimmed down, eye-on-the-budget, Frankfurt motor show was expected, and so it proved. But, while visitor numbers were estimated off 25% to 750,000, several well-known Japanese brands (not including Mazda , which has long been popular in Germany) stayed away, BMW kept its tent folded and the lavish on-stand hospitality of some previous years was noticeably absent, the show was still the usual sprawl.

“They’ve got a new hall this year – I think I’m up somewhere near Berlin,” lamented one of our team by electronic message. Perhaps we should have packed him hiking boots, bratwurst for lunch and a flask of double-caffeine coffee.

After sounding a note of caution, we quickly learned that recent previous years’ how-green-we-are message had turned into battery-EVs-are-the-future as one automaker after another lifted the covers (a little) on what is being worked on.

Away from the main hall hype, those at the business end – suppliers – were gathering in various places and experts in their field like investor (and interiors maker financier) Wilbur Ross were speaking. We also caught up with a top executive at TRW whose views are always worth hearing.

Opel, of course, while launching the new Astra at the show (many will, ahem, be British-built), remained in the news with GM Europe head Carl-Peter Forster wondering if automakers’ recent supplier strategy was the right call.

Battery suppliers had lots to talk about so we listened. Lithium ion might be the future but Toyota , ever cautious as usual (remember how long it took to adopt front-drive for small cars?) reckons nickel’ll do nicely for now, in hybrids anyway.

Have a nice weekend (rest those worn Frankfurt feet).

Graeme Roberts
Deputy/News Editor