The Frankfurt Motor Show has opened to the public with environmentally friendly cars in focus. The head of the German VDA auto federation which organises the show said he expects a 10 to 15 percent drop in global car sales this year and manufacturers are looking to the green market to help them claw back profits and help the planet.Renault’s chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, said green is inevitable: “Taking into account that the number of cars will increase, that oil prices will increase, that the pressure on the environment will increase, the auto industry has no alternative but zero emission vehicles.” The dream machines are still there, but carmakers have been hard hit by the recession and at the top end sales are down more than a quarter from a year ago. Small cars are what is selling, but opening the show, Chancellor Angela Merkel said there is room for all: “In a free world you can’t impose limits on the size of cars and you can’t standardise them. Consumers must have free choice on what they buy. And moreover, if there were no manufacturers of big cars, innovation in the production of smaller cars wouldn’t advanced so quickly.” Merkel also defended the German government’s role in the sale of Opel by GM. The Frankfurt show is a slimmed down version this year with a third fewer exhibitors. Three quarters of a million visitors are expected to attend; that is down from nearly one million when the biennial show was last on in 2007.
Frankfurt goes green