The organisers of the Frankfurt Motor Show might have hoped for better timing, with petrol prices throughout Europe at record levels and car sales in the region stagnant. However 80 new models are being rolled out at previews, launch parties and news conferences before the bi-annual show opens to the public on Saturday. Motor manufacturing is vital to the German economy. It is estimated one in seven jobs in the country depends on the industry.
But these are difficult times for car makers. Sales in Europe have barely risen so far this year and a fall in numbers is being predicted for next year by the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The high petrol prices have not banished the gas guzzlers, there are plenty of 4×4s at the Frankfurt show and even a new long wheelbase version of the Rolls Royce Phantom. If you can afford 323,000 euros for that, you do not need to worry about the cost of filling it up.
But for ordinary drivers, carmakers are putting a lot of effort into hybrids. Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche announced at the show that they will cooperate in developing hybrid petrol and electricity-powered engines. Motor group are combining to catch up with Toyota’s major lead in the area. After the success of the Prius, the Japanese company is unveiling more hybrid version of its cars.