U.S. attacks felt at Frankfurt show

FRANKFURT -- News of the U.S. attacks quickly brought an air of solemnity to the Frankfurt auto show and forced the cancellation of several events.

The news rippled throughout the mammoth, 10-hall complex in midafternoon of the first press day. Scores of people crowded around a TV in a lounge area. Others pressed against TV news trucks, hoping to get a peek at the TV monitors inside. Before the press conference held by automotive supplier ThyssenKrupp, a big screen played CNN's coverage.

DaimlerChrysler cancelled its press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday. CEO Juergen Schrempp was to have given an update on the company's business.

"We are shocked and deeply troubled by today's terrorist attacks on the American people," Schrempp said in a statement. "Our sympathy goes to the many innocent people and their families as a result of these attacks. As a German-American company, we are in complete solidarity with the American people during this dark hour."

A Tuesday DaimlerChrysler dinner with about 70 journalists was to proceed as scheduled, but a spokesman said no business would be discussed.

BMW AG, meanwhile, shut down all the music in its exhibit hall. The company also said that all events that have the character of a party had been cancelled.

Austrian supplier Magna Steyr cancelled a press conference scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday. Before reaching the decision, officials consulted with journalists.

After the executives, in German, announced to the assembled journalists that the event would be cancelled, they asked for a moment of silence. Journalists were invited to speak to executives privately.

The Verband der Automobilindustrie, the association of German automakers and suppliers that sponsors the Frankfurt show, cancelled two major events.

The VDA will not hold its presidents' reception at the Frankfurt opera house Wednesday evening. The show's official public opening ceremony, scheduled for 10 a.m Thursday, also was cancelled. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and other government officials as well as VDA President Bernd Gottschalk were to have attended.

The VDA said Tuesday evening it was working with the German federal government and police in the German state of Hessen, where Frankfurt is located, to strengthen security at the show.

Many U.S. executives at the show were scheduled to fly home Wednesday. The closing of U.S. airports put those plans in doubt.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@autonews.com

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