6 things I learned at this year's Frankfurt auto show
FRANKFURT – Did you know that the traditional “frankfurter” fast food involves two sausages on a hamburger bun? Me neither. But that’s only one of the things I learned at this year’s bi-annual Frankfurt auto show…
Those French have a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to concepts - While the Germans roll out one predictable concept car after another, yet again, it was left up to one of the French automakers to hit one out of left field at this year’s show. Specifically, Citroen, and its Tubik Concept van.
Looking like the love child of the Hindenburg zeppelin and a 1972 Chevy shaggin’ wagon, the Tubik confirms what comedian Steve Martin once said, “Boy, those French, they have a different word for everything!”
Despite what its CEO is saying, Volvo WILL build a flagship sedan, damnit! - There’s been an ongoing pissing match between Volvo’s CEO, former Volkswagen of America head German Stefan Jacoby and the chairman of China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Li Shufu, the company that bought the Swedish brand from Ford.
Jacoby has gone on record saying he doesn’t think the brand can command the $100,000-plus price tags the flagships sedans like the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S Class ask for. But Li does. And now with Volvo's Design You Frankfurt concept, the second flagship sedan concept this year after the Universe that popped up in March at Geneva, it looks like Li is winning the battle and will get his Volvo flagship, whether anyone will buy one or not.
Kia is the new leader in mainstream brand car design - If you need any further proof that Korea’s Kia is designing the best-looking affordable cars, look no further than its GT Concept, here in Frankfurt.
While the stunning rear-wheel-drive GT won’t be built as is, it does give clues to how future sporty Kias (which there are several planned for) will look like, and reconfirms the Korean automaker’s burgeoning design dominance.
Nobody wants station wagons anymore, except the rich - As a follow up to the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz CLS-based sports wagon and the Ferrari FF, Fisker Automotive unveiled its Surf Concept, a shooting brake (or wagon) version of its Karma luxury sedan, powered by a pair of electric motors to the rear wheels, and described as and "electric luxury/sports automobile for an active and eco-friendly lifestyle" that is a "crossover between a sports car and a station wagon".
So let me get this straight: Station wagons seem to be making comeback. But only for the rich new car buyer?
Your kid's next new car will be a four-wheeled electric motorcycle - The pair of Audi Urban Concepts (the Urban Spider is seen above), General Motors’ Opel Rake and Volkswagen’s Nils represent a potential new type of car: tiny, ultra-lightweight electric-vehicles, with seats for only one or two passengers—and more importantly for cash-strapped younger new car buyers—potentially at a cost substantially less than mom’s new Corolla.
So while you drive around in your Grand Caravan in retirement, keep an eye out for your kids as they whisk by at your hubcap level in these EV quadracycles.
The Volkswagen Group is the next GM - If that sounds ominous, it is. As Germany’s largest automaker—with the long-term goal of outselling number-one General Motors and number-two Toyota worldwide—the Volkswagen Group’s plethora of production car unveilings dominated the Frankfurt show floor. And no other vehicle demonstrated VW’s determination for world dominance more than its new Up! city car.
While Canadians won’t be getting the Up! until we stop buying pickups as daily transportation, the four-seat city car was presented in six different concepts, reminding people of the original Beetle, and how it was eventually spun off into various variants.
There was the Myers Manx inspired Buggy Up! (shown above), the Let’s go to the beach! Up! Azzurra, the mini-crossover Cross Up!, the sporty GT Up!, the diesel Eco Up! and all electric e-Up!—well, you get the point.