The Frankfurt Motor Show is probably the biggest in the world. It's held every other year, and the city's Messe, or exhibition area, is so vast you almost need a bicycle or inline skates to get around. Walking is great exercise, especially in 90-degree heat.
As always, there were exciting new products from the European makers, which will ensure that Europe remains the most competitive market in the world. There are a half dozen manufacturers scrambling for one or two percentage points. The makers are separated by no more than 10 percentage points of market share from top to bottom. They struggle for every sale, and they do it without trucks.
Europe has discovered the minivan, but sport-utilities barely make a dent. Euro-peans still don't understand the pickup, which will never be accepted in Europe. It just doesn't fit.
Still, the Frankfurt Motor Show proved once again that product is king. There were plenty of executives strutting around the show, but they were invisible next to their newest hardware. I don't know how many of the new products will make it to North America - most are probably for Europe only. If all these world-class entries showed up in the United States, it would be even tougher for the Big 3 to compete.
Everyone shows up at the Frankfurt show, but nationalism is strong. The show is dominated by the German manufacturers, including Opel and Ford. Mercedes and BMW have their own buildings, not insignificant investments for a 10-day run. Volkswagen uses most of a building to showcase all its brands, from VW to Bugatti and Bentley, with Skoda and Seat in between. Even though Opel is a German company, it seems lost in a competitive struggle among the other German makers.
The Japanese makes attend, but they are relegated to a lesser building. And as usual, the American brands are an afterthought, although Chrysler's Austrian entries are having some modest success.
Frankfurt was an exciting place last week. Despite the vastness of the show, it is a wonderful place to showcase some very exciting new products.
There are probably four or five motor shows that you must attend, and Frankfurt is right up there with Detroit, Tokyo, Geneva and Paris. For new cars, old cars and new execs, Frankfurt can't be beat. It's a 'must' because it never disappoints.