“The most automotive show in the world”
Nobody, either involved or interested in the motor industry, can ignore the Frankfurt Motor Show 2013 (Internationale Automobil Ausstellung – IAA) dedicated to cars in uneven years in Frankfurt, and to commercial vehicles in even years in Hanover. Past IAAs drew between 900,000 and one million visitors from all over the world. This year over 1,000 exhibitors from 34 countries occupied the 230,000 sqm show ground. If a visitor would like to have a look at all of the exhibits he would have to walk 20 kms, or 12,5 miles, and if he would stop and talk to the stand attendants he should anticipate on spending the entire 11 days at the show. The IAA is also an opportunity for automotive professionals from all over the world to meet, with many trade events at the Congress Centre.
News for every motorist
Product engineering enables many body variants on a single platform. Volkswagen, as Europe’s biggest motor manufacturer, made this a specific company policy. VAG members including Volkswagen, Skoda, Seat and Audi share many essential components, and are able to offer end products which appeal to a wide variety of motorists.
But virtually all motor manufacturers at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2013 introduced updated versions of their existing product range, or offered new models like smaller SUVs and cross-overs. The electronic solutions contributing to driver assistance, comfort, and safety appear in ever less expensive new cars. GPS navigation, distance signalling, lane monitoring, automated parking and anti-collision braking were practically unknown a decade ago. Now, these features have found their way into popular compact car categories.
The ideal of self-driving vehicles helps to develop all kinds of driver assistance systems and this promises to be the next profit-maker. The advances displayed on the vehicle stands in performance and fuel economy would have been unthinkable in the last century.
Of course, a lot of these technological advances are driven by government measures, fiscal and environmental emission limits, high fuel prices, the need to avoid too much dependence on mineral fuels, and congested traffic conditions. Highlights at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2013 were electric drivelines, alternative fuels, driverless navigation and internet connectivity in cars.
Europe: shrink or growth?
CEO presentations at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2013 press conferences all expressed doubts whether the European market for new cars would recover from the lower sales since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. An increasing number of young people cannot afford new cars. Car ownership in a city is spoiled by parking problems.
Only the German car and truck market shows a slow return to pre-crisis levels, a major contribution being made by the three premium makes: Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Because of their leading position in the premium car market in the whole world, they provide similar prominent positions to suppliers.
This explains the full employment and spending power of a large part of the German industry. The profits made by the German motor industry are generated by exports to China and other BRIC markets.
Peugeot-Citroën as Europe’s second-largest motor manufacturer is prominent in Europe and is now trying to acquire more sales outside Europe.
Fiat has relied on the big Italian market but low national sales have forced them to seek less expensive manufacturing countries such as Poland, Turkey and Serbia, relying on Italian design. Italian design and style are still influential and appreciated.
Sports cars such as Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini reap the benefits. Abarth and Alfa Romeo continue their reputation in today’s models.
Pim van der Veer
Postscript: Another interesting bit of news is that Conti anticipates sales from the technology that will enable autonomous driving to reach 1Billion Euro within the next 4 – 5 years. In 7 – 8 years they estimate sales will reach 3 Billion Euro, while it sits at 400Mil Euro at the moment. Conti is strengthening its partnership with IT companies like Cisco and IBM, and is also looking at Yahoo or Google.