Reflections on the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

  • 1. Down on the street...
  • 2. ... is actually up on the roof.
  • And that's me, arrowed, playing in (virtual) traffic.
Date:11 September 2013 Author: Anthony Doman Tags:,

The dust has settled, the mayhem has subsided. There’s an air of relative calm. Day 2 of the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show has an air of unreality about it, coming as it does after the madness of Day 1’s nearly 50 product launches.

The opening day of the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung, the world’s biggest motor show, is all glamour, strobes, lasers, dancers, media scrums. Plenty of smoke, too. And mirrors. Lots of mirrors*. (See some of the action on our Facebook page.)

Day 2 of the Frankfurt Motor Show is devoted to events showcasing specialists, accessories and original equipment suppliers. There are far fewer people, and with few exceptions they are dressed in dark, sober colurs. This is serious business, after all.

Still, it’s the glamorous side of the show that gets the attention. Two years ago, real showstoppers were thin on the ground. This time around, once again we saw few truly visionary – never mind wacky – concepts. Those that there were, were conventional or evolutionary.

Certainly, the drive towards electric power, heavily punted in 2011, is gaining momentum. E-vehicles are everywhere you look – and they are not just adaptations of existing models. The electric vehicles shuttling media from one end of the vast Frankfurt Messe range from BMW i3s to various Opels and Citroens. Occasionally you’ll hear the mutter of a direct injection diesel. (Though as a cheeky counterpoint, there’s a Mini shuttle that uses the original BMC Mini.) The new wave of EVs are genuinely practical cars. That doesn’t mean “practical for short commutes or trips to the shop”, either: there’s knockout performance, carrying capacity and significant travelling range to be had from a variety of manufacturers. I’ll be focusing on this in the Frankfurt Motor Show roundup in Popular Mechanics’ November issue. But let’s not forget those for whom a car is not merely personal transport from A to B. Those who look forward to the journey as much as the destination – if not more than that. You know, the people we like to call petrolheads.

Wonder what we’ll call them in the future?

* Down on the street. The Agora sits like a gigantic cake box on a central plaza at the Frankfurt fairgrounds. Its sole occupant, Audi, created a skyscraper-lined cityscape that had visitors craning their necks to look UP at the activity on the street: the entire thing hung down from a mirrored ceiling.


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