Frankfurt Auto Show 2001Enlarge Photo
SHOW STARTS ON SOMBER NOTE. The bad news traveled fast, taking just minutes to spread across the kilometer-long Frankfurt Motor Show; the terror in New York and Washington quickly brought the events in Germany to a halt. Computer screens meant to display product specifications and prices were quickly converted to news centers, journalists and industry officials crowding around for any word on what was happening half a world away. Germans, Italians, French and Japanese stood side-by-side, finding ways to communicate despite their language barriers. Anyone obviously American was likely to get a hug, a pained smile, and some expression of solidarity. As the terrible Tuesday night drew to a close, Chrysler Group Chairman Dieter Zetsche sat with a flock of U.S. auto writers over dinner. “We were afraid it might not seem appropriate,” he said, clearly pained by the day’s events, “but we thought it would be better to give you a chance to be with your colleagues, rather than sit alone in your hotel rooms all night staring at the same pictures over and over again on CNN.”
THE SHOW MUST GO AGAIN—AT LEAST SOME OF IT. This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show was expected to bring an estimated 57 world premieres. But if anyone had the cool composure left to keep count, it fell short in the wake of the terrorist assault on the U.S., as carmakers and suppliers began canceling their news conferences and other media events. Among the most important no-shows was the long-awaited DaimlerChrysler Maybach. The ultra-luxury brand is expected to move the automaker into the rarified range once controlled by Rolls-Royce and Bentley. It will serve as an all-new marque, rather than an extension of the comparatively mass-market Mercedes-Benz. Now word on when the automaker will now lift the covers on Maybach, but it’s still more than a year away from production. Mercedes also canceled the rollout of an advanced safety concept vehicle designed not only improve a motorist’s chances of surviving an accident, but of avoiding the crash all together.
2002 Citroen C3Enlarge Photo
2002 Ford FiestaFORD
FIELDS NEW FIESTA. Promising
to “transform the market,” Ford Motor Co. rolled out a stylish new version of
its Fiesta mini-compact, a vehicle that will provide a “new foundation” for the
company, declared David Thursfield, CEO of Ford of Europe. The new Fiesta is the
latest in a string of products Ford has been rolling out in a product offensive
design to halt its devastating market share decline. The European market has
been shifting directions, moving towards smaller, more fuel-efficient and more
personalized products, Thursfield told TheCarConnection.
2002 Ford FiestaEnlarge Photo
Ford Fusion Concept Frankfurt 2001Enlarge Photo
Opel Signum Concept Frankfurt 2001FORM
AND FUNCTION AT OPEL. It
seems like every European automaker is searching for a way to provide stylish
designs that also pack in plenty of room and functionality. Opel’s proposed
solution is the Signum concept vehicle. The wagon-like four-door boasts “the
stylishness of a coupe,” declared Carl-Peter Forster, head of the General Motors
subsidiary. Will it make it from concept to production? “You’re not going to
have to wait very long,” Forster hinted.
Opel Signum Concept Frankfurt 2001Enlarge Photo