Frankfurt Motor Show starts with an upbeat tone

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A concept version of Land Rover's Defender is seen at the Jaguar-Land Rover exhibition booth during the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, September 13, 2011. The world's biggest auto show runs until September 25. Photo - Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

The Frankfurt Motor Show, the largest in the world, kicked off in the German city on 13 September with carmakers showcasing their latest products.The Frankfurt Motor Show is held every two years under the aegis IAA (Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung).

Carmakers at the fair shrugged off concerns over the industry’s growth prospects in the face of market volatility and high sovereign debt in Europe and the US, buoyed by finances and strong performance in emerging markets.

Christian Klingler, the sales chief of Volkswagen AG said, “We expect the global car market to grow further next year … even though the risks have increased slightly.” Daimler AG Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche echoed the same upbeat message, saying the capital market volatility has not affected businesses so far. However, he admitted that the carmaker is making cautious decisions in most regions.

Other manufacturers also sounded a note of caution, particularly for car sales in Europe. General Motors Co. European President Nick Reilly said that the prices could come under pressure if there is another economic crisis. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne stated that they expect sales across Europe to be worse in 2011. French carmaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen said it plans to step up cost cutting by reducing headcount due to the market uncertainty.

EMERGING MARKETS

Renault SA’s CEO Carlos Ghosn , however, sees emerging markets in China, India, the Middle East, and Latin America as a positive sign for the car industry. China, the market that pulled most major European carmakers out of their last slump, remains a potential market, particularly in the premium sector. Volkswagen-owned Audi raised its sales target for the Chinese market to more than 300,000 cars in 2011, up from a previous forecast of more than 280,000 vehicles.

CARS ON DISPLAY

Volkswagen is promoting its small cars, taxis, and car sharing as the next big things in emerging markets, where owning a car is still financially difficult for many consumers. Just 3.54 meters long, the Up! model is smaller than the company’s Golf and Polo models.

The Porsche’s new 911 model features a six-cylinder engine with 350 horsepower that can accelerate to 60 miles an hour in 4.6 seconds. Electro mobility and hybrid cars also feature in this year’s show.BMW presented the electric i3 and the i8, a hybrid with an electric and combustion engine, which will hit the market in 2014 at the latest.

Aston Martin presented their latest limited edition Aston Martin V12 Zagato. It comes from the Italy-based Zagato design house, in Milan.

Opel’s rocket-powered car, the RAKe, is an interesting two-seater car with lithium-ion battery pack residing under the passenger seat. The RAKe has a top speed of 75mph, a range of 60 miles and a target price of under 12,000. Opel’s designers were keen to keep the running costs down to about 1 per 60 miles and the whole vehicle weighs 380kg including batteries.

Replacing the Land Rover Defender was never easy, but the two DC100 concepts shown at Frankfurt demonstrate the way Jaguar Land Rover has redesigned it. John Edwards, Land Rover’s brand director, says the new vehicle will go on sale by 2015. There’s a pleasing simplicity about the hard-top DC100 with business-like entry and departure angles. The DC100 Sport is a rakish, open-top affair, with a fast-back rear and cutaway side glass.

Sources: WSJ, Telegraph.co.uk, autoblog

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