Auto Show Index
Talk about the '01 Frankfurt show
When the doors opened for the
media days at the biannual Frankfurt Auto Show (IAA), optimism was in evidence
if not buoyant. Despite the potential of a global recession, a majority of
manufacturers were positive about the future. On the product side, an
unprecedented unveiling of 57 new vehicles promised an exciting show.
By the end of the first media
day, the mood throughout the massive exhibition site had changed to one of
sadness. It was around 3.00 p.m. when word started to get around that a mammoth
terrorist attack had just occurred in the U.S. At first some thought it was a
joke – but then as the horror and magnitude of the incident became apparent, the
hearts and thoughts of everyone was far removed from the excitement of the
unveiling of new cars.
It was during the worldwide
premiere launch of the new Hyundai Coupe that the presenter was made aware of
what was happening. He immediately informed the gathered crowds and politely
stopped the presentation and just pulled the cover off the car.
The second media day was very
somber with long faces on everyone – whatever their nationality. The world was
in mourning and nobody was in the mood to celebrate the glitter of an auto show.
Nonetheless it was decided that the show must go on – although many suggested
the organizers should cancel the show, the general sentiment was that would be
just what the terrorists would want. Life does go on, for the fortunate.
Judged by the number seen on the
roads, the Micro Compact Car (MCC) Smart car is a hit with European drivers. MCC
showed off an interesting concept Tridion that takes the Smart idea up into the
more normal size. The five-door four-seater uses matte-finished body panels and
is built around a strong safety cell.
In just its second international
auto show as an independent company, the mood at MG Rover was upbeat: “There was
disbelief back in January when we said we’d have a complete range of MG cars,”
said Kevin Howe, MG Rover’s boss, as he unveiled the MG X80. It’s doubtful Howe
even dreamed he’d be unveiling a 385-horsepower, Ford Mustang-powered high-end
sports car that will be built in Modena, Italy, the home of so many exotic car
companies. It’s the hurriedly restyled car based on the Qvale sports car that
was inherited when MG Rover acquired the U.S.-based Qvale company in June. The
final production car will go on sale in summer of 2002 and will be the flagship
in the MG line competing against the Porsche 911 and Jaguar XK8, according to
Skoda jokes are dead according to
company officials of the Czechoslovakian company that was acquired by VW in
1991. In one of the most successful turnarounds in history Skoda has gone from
selling 170,000 cars of decidedly poor quality cars to selling 460,000 quality
cars per year. Its newest car, the Superb, is an inexpensive entry luxury
stretched version of the VW Passat that revives a name last used on a famous
large luxury car Skoda sold from 1934 to 1949. Dr. Jens Neumann, one of the
board members, says “Skoda has gone from the brand with no future to a brand
with a future based on tradition.”