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1999 Frankfurt Show, Part I


1999 Bugatti Chiron

1999 Bugatti Chiron

One only has to look at a map of the Frankfurt Motor Show to get an idea of its importance. The event, which takes place every other year, fills more than a dozen convention halls and sprawls over nearly a square mile. The Motor Show coincides with what is on line to become a record-breaking year for the European auto industry, but a year in which competition has reached record levels of intensity, as well. By one analyst's estimate, European new-car prices have fallen about 2.5 percent this year. That’s putting the squeeze on profits, but in order to gain an advantage, manufacturers are rushing new product to market faster than ever. The 1999 show featured an estimated 51 world premieres, in all about 50 percent more debuts than just two years ago. The show runs through Sept. 26, and is expected to draw nearly 1 million visitors. Here’s a look at some of the hottest products and trends….PAE

Verso 1999 Frankfurt

Verso 1999 Frankfurt


1999 Pininfarina Metro

1999 Pininfarina Metro

THINKING SMALL. The big trend among European automakers this year is really a small one. With European roads growing more crowded than ever, and with continental fuel prices topping $5 a gallon in some markets, buyers are seeking ever more compact products. But there’s a big difference from the minicars of the past. Toyota’s Yaris Verso and the Pininfarina Metro are two good examples of how big things can come in small (exterior) packages. While both are, for the moment, concept vehicles, a version of the Verso is scheduled for production next year. This microvan is based off the same platform as the Yaris minicar that Toyota unveiled a year ago at the Paris Motor Show.

1999 Hyundai Tutti

1999 Hyundai Tutti

Pickups are a rare sight in Europe, but Hyundai’s little Tutti suggests there could be room for a pocket-sized cargo carrier blending functionality with a little bit of flair.

1999 Opel G90

1999 Opel G90

Opel’s G90 concept car is not only tiny but also incredibly fuel-efficient. In European terms, it needs only 3.88 liters of fuel for every 100 kilometers. That’s roughly 60 miles to the gallon for the 1650-pound vehicle, which makes extensive use of aluminum and magnesium. The G90 is powered by a modest 60-hp, three-cylinder engine.

DaimlerChrysler announced in Frankfurt that, over the next three years alone, it intends to spend $48 billion on product development. That will yield more than 30 new products over that time frame, 64

Chrysler Java concept 1999

Chrysler Java concept 1999

vehicles if you stretch out through 2004. For the moment, at least, the tiny Chrysler Java sedan also falls into the prototype category, but likely not for long. "We have a habit of putting our concepts into production," hints DaimlerChrysler Co-Chairman Bob Eaton. Though the Java is nearly 20 inches shorter than the upcoming Chrysler PT Cruiser, it has roughly the same-sized passenger compartment. (It’s a full yard shorter and significantly roomier than DaimlerChrysler’s smallest American model, the Neon.) As with the Verso, Metro, and G90, the key is Java’s tall roof and high seating position — it’s 62 inches tall versus 56 for Neon. If — or, more likely, when — the Java goes into production, it will help kick off a serious effort to establish the Chrysler brand as a significant global competitor. The prototype is powered by a 1.4-liter engine borrowed from the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. In production, it would more likely use one of the tiny Tritec engines Chrysler and BMW are building in a Brazilian joint venture. A version of a Mercedes diesel would also be available.
1999 Audi A2

 
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