MARK RECHTIN

To Infiniti and beyond here to Eterniti

FRANKFURT -- Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humor?

One look at the Frankfurt auto show press conference schedule proves otherwise.

Whereas American auto shows luxuriate in two days of interminable dronings-on by executives -- often with little to show -- the Frankfurt organizers are a get-down-to-business bunch.

All the automakers' press conferences are jammed into one day. What's more, because so many of them have so many things to say, often two press conferences are going on at the same time.

That's not a problem in terms of overlapping noise, because the Frankfurt Messe is so gigantic that journalists have been known to walk more than seven miles -- in suits and dress shoes, while lugging computers and video gear -- over the course of a show day.

The real problem is that politics enter the scheduling of the conferences. And this is where the fun starts.

Ford Motor's announcements are at the same time as former subsidiaries Jaguar and Land Rover. There's no way to blow off one for the other, because all are blowout events. Ford is unveiling new engines and a new design language. Meanwhile, Jaguar is showing a spiritual successor to the E-Type, and Land Rover has a design mockup for the next Defender, which was last replaced when Sean Connery was James Bond.

That's not all. Japanophiles will be frustrated by the organizers placing Toyota and Mazda events at the same time.

And, in a bit of whimsy, Infiniti and Eterniti are competing for eyeballs. I bet more than a few exhausted scribblers will arrive awaiting news from Nissan's luxury arm, only to stumble upon a coachbuilder with a reskinned Porsche Cayenne.

Only in Frankfurt.

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