THE WEEK THAT WAS: Frankfurt lite

By just-auto.com editorial team | 18 September 2009

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