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.
2002 MG X80
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
2002 Skoda Superb
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.”
Nissan Primera and
2002 Nissan Primera
2003 Nissan Micra
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
2002 Toyota Corolla
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.
2002 Maserati Spyder
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.
2002 Hyundai Tiburon
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
2002 Volkswagen Polo
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.
Audi Avantissimo concept Frankfurt 2001
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.