Nissan Primera and
Two years ago Dr. Carlos Ghosn unveiled the famous turnaround plan for
Nissan, the sickly Japanese company saved by Renault. At that time he said it
would take three years to achieve the goals of profitability and growth. In an
obviously buoyant mood he described how the comeback was running ahead of
schedule thanks to the introduction of great new products. Certainly the all-new
U.K.-designed and U.K.-built Nissan Primera was well received at the show, just
as the similar sized U.S.-built Altima has also been well received stateside.
Ghosn also unveiled the pretty mm.e concept car that will become the new Micra
In Europe Toyota is not the clear
leader among the Japanese makes as it is in Japan and the U.S. Judging by the
size of its booth and the successful launch of the European-designed Yaris last
year, Toyota has figured out what it needs to do – build cars designed for
Europeans. That’s why the all-new Corolla looks quite different from what will
be purchased by U.S. buyers next year.
It might look conservative
compared to many Italian cars of today but there’s no doubt that the Maserati
Spyder is a very pretty convertible sports car. The even better news is that
Americans will be able to buy this car before too long, as it is the model that
will see Maserati return to the States after a decade’s absence. It might just
start a trend for other European nameplates, such as Peugeot, Lancia, Fiat,
Renault, to return to the U.S.
The Hyundai Tiburon, Known
elsewhere in the world as the Coupe, has been selling much better in Europe than
in the U.S. Hyundai aims to correct that with the new Coupe that will be
available with an optional V-6 engine. The pretty coupe is the result of a new
direction in Hyundai design, according to an official, whereby vehicles will be
designed slightly differently for different markets in order to meet customer
desires, which can vary so much from one area of the world to the next.
Volkswagen Polo and
There was no doubt who was
feeling like top dog at this year’s Frankfurt show – Dr. Piech, the powerful
head of VW who will retire next year and hand over the reigns of Europe’s
largest car company (and fourth-largest in the world) to Dr. Pischetsrieder.
Just days after the announcement that Pischetsrieder would be taking over next
year, Dr. Piech addressed the media and offered his congratulations to
Pischetsrieder, saying he is customer focused and “a car freak.” Piech’s legacy
will include the many new cars the group launched at the show – the VW Polo,
Lamborghini Murcielago, Audi Cabriolet, Audi A4 Avant, Seat Tango and yet
another version of the Bugatti.
There was really no exciting
concept cars unveiled this year compared to many shows in previous years.
Judging by the crowds that thronged around the car at all times, the Audi
Avantissimo was the biggest hit. Yet it is nothing much more than a large
station wagon, albeit dripping with new technology such as a
driver-identification system, an all-glass roof and a multimedia interface.