Frankfurt Motor Show 2011

Love Machines

Duncan Thorne reports from the prestigious Frankfurt Motor Show…

Frankfurt. Not the most glamorous of destinations it’s fair to say. So the chance to visit Germany’s financial capital didn’t seem an overly exciting prospect until, that was, we discovered On: had been invited to attend the Frankfurt Motor Show, widely regarded as the motor event in calendar for manufacturers, motor fanatics and consumers and is only held every two years.

bugatti

Bugatti

All the biggest names in the automotive industry were present, including the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Rolls Royce, Land Rover and Bentley, spending millions trying to create the best impression with the most jaw-dropping of stands featuring the next generation of supercars, hypercars, luxury vehicles, concept cars and electric vehicles (more about these later).

The most noticeable aspect of the show was its sheer size, dwarfing the MPH Show held in London and Birmingham and, to provide context, the 12 stands took an average of an hour to get around if reviewing the vehicles closely, as we were, on the press day when unlimited access was given.

“Demand”

The Mercedes Exhibition

The Mercedes Exhibition

Special mention should go to the German manufacturers. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and those that fall under the VW Group umbrella were keen to put on a special show in their back yard and certainly made an impression. Mercedes-Benz’s presence spanned three storeys or 44 tennis courts as its media information pointed out, and took 1,500 people 70 days to construct, with cars driving round the purpose-built, elevated indoor track.

But unquestionably (and somewhat predictably), it was Ferrari that stole the show. Its latest model, the 458, has been a huge hit with demand so high that prices for the now one-year old supercar going for more than £50,000 above the £173,132 list price, so anticipation at the unveiling of the soft-top version, the 458 Spider had been greatly anticipated and didn’t disappoint.

“Concept”

Lamborghini showed off its new derivative of the Gallardo, the Super Trofeo Stradale, which it says is the most extreme version to date, with a rear wing doubling the down force over the already hardcore LP570-4 Superleggera.

Landrover DC100

Land Rover was not to be outdone either and its recently launched ‘baby’ Range Rover, the Evoque, receiving lots of attention, while a new concept to recreate the Yorkshire farmers’ favourite, the iconic Defender model, caused the biggest surprise. Its radical design, code named the DC100, is far removed from the traditional model which Land Rover says ‘is the beginning of a four-year journey to design a ‘Defender for the 21st century’.

Among those attending the show was Bridford Financial Solutions, a supercar and prestige vehicle finance specialist that boasts professional footballers, high net worth individuals and company directors among its clientele. The national company, which is based in Ilkley, visited the show to get the low-down on the latest releases and concept vehicles that it will be financing.

“Efficiency”

 

Three things really stood out from the show and are worth giving some thought to. Firstly, the manufacturers either genuinely believe that electric cars are the future given the variety of concept vehicles on display and the efforts they went to in promoting them, or it’s an EU emissions ‘ticking-the-box’ exercise, like some say was the reason Aston Martin created the Toyota Prius-style Cygnet.

Audi Electric Concept Car

Audi Electric Concept Car

Secondly, and staying on the theme of electric cars, the size of the show meant many people were transported from hall to hall via prototype cars. Nothing wrong with this as their energy efficiency means there’s no pollution but it unveiled another problem with battery-run cars; they are so quiet people don’t hear them, they’re as silent as normal cars are when they’re free-wheeling. So what, you might ask. Well, we were among many that narrowly avoided being knocked down at various stages of the day and it’s something that will need addressing to protect pedestrians before a mass of them are out on the roads.

“No boundaries”

Thirdly, the Frankfurt Motor Show showed us that when it comes to motoring there really are no boundaries – and this was proven perfectly by Bugatti. Not content with producing the world’s fastest road production vehicle in the Veyron (top speed 253mph), the Italian firm proudly courted its one-off build L’Or Blanc that features – wait for it – porcelain.

Logos and filler caps are made from tea-pot material as are parts of the blindingly white interior making carbon fibre and chrome features look positively old school. And the good news for all On: readers is that at the time of writing, the L’Or Blanc still hadn’t been sold so anyone with a spare £1.5 million can put their name on the registration document. Form an orderly queue.

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