Notes from the Frankfurt auto show

Maybe, maybe not

Posted 1:30 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 16
Automotive News had a chance to ask Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche if the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz pickup will come to the U.S. He gave a longish CEO style answer that basically boiled down to "maybe, maybe not." -- Dave Guilford
Maybe, maybe not
(BLOOMBERG)
 

Imagine the grille here ...

Posted 1:30 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 16
Imagine the grille here ...
(BLOOMBERG)
 
A partially transparent Volkswagen Tiguan crossover draws a couple of admirers Wednesday on the show floor.

Going up

Posted 8:07 am U.S. ET, Sept. 16
Going up
 
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche takes the escalator up to his joint press conference, where he appeared with Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
-- Richard Johnson

Audi's cool idea

Posted 6:34 am U.S. ET, Sept. 16
Audi's cool idea
 
Walk into Audi's building here in Frankfurt and show goers will find a chamber completely encased in ice several inches thick. It's not immediately clear what the message behind it is; yesterday the walls were lit up by projectors.
-- Ryan Beene

Ghosn on mergers, alliances

Posted 5:50 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Ghosn on mergers, alliances
(DAVE GUILFORD)
 
An animated Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn worked the room at an alliance reception Tuesday in Frankfurt. His take on counterpart Sergio Marchionne's call for industry mergers: Consolidation is needed and will continue, but mergers aren't the only solution. Alliances, for instance, work really well in Ghosn's opinion. -- Dave Guilford

VW Group confab

Posted 5:46 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 15
VW Group confab
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of Porsche SE, center, looks on as Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, left, shanks hands with Kazunori Yamauchi, president of Polyphony Digital, during the Frankfurt motor show on Tuesday.

Joy ride

Posted 5:37 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Joy ride
(REUTERS)
 
Hyundai's Virtual Drive Simulator thrills a fan on Tuesday at the Frankfurt motor show.

Virtual tour, times 2

Posted 11:45 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Virtual tour, times 2
(REUTERS)
 
Two visitors enjoy a virtual test drive at Toyota's booth Tuesday.
 

Step aside Porsche, Audi

Posted 1:45 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Step aside Porsche, Audi
(REUTERS)
 
Never mind Audi and Porsche, two giants that took the wraps off of new electric vehicles this week to challenge Tesla. The Thunder Power -- an EV with 450 hp and rear-wheel drive -- debuted this week in a small corner of the Frankfurt auto show. It’s the creation of CEO Wellen Sham, who took over a tooling company four years ago and turned it into a Taiwan-based purveyor of EVs. “Why the name? Because it’s electric,” Sham told TG.com. It's packed with lots of leather and wood, a huge screen that covers the entire dash and an interior designed by Zagato, Sham told Top Gear. Thunder Power promises 'European engineering' wrapped up in 'Italian design', and it has hired former Bugatti technician Dr. Peter Tutzer to oversee the project. The car is currently undergoing testing in Milan, ahead of a planned 2017 European release, AutoExpress.com reported. -- David Phillips

Opel's shiny app tech on display

Posted 1:32 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Opel's shiny app tech on display
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Visitors sit inside a light installation in the shape of a car on the Opel OnStar stand Monday at the Frankfurt auto show. The display spotlights Adam Opel AG's in-car connected app technology.

Smart on display

Posted 10:15 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Smart on display
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Annette Winkler, head of Daimler AG's Smart brand, introduces the Smart FourTwo compact car and cabriolet on Tuesday.

Borgward is back

Posted 8:26 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Borgward is back
 
The return of the long-dormant German brand Borgward is making a big splash in Hall 5. Chief Designer Benjamin Nawka, recruited from Mercedes-Benz in 2012 to take on the project, called it "the challenge of a lifetime."‎ He wound up creating an elegant-looking crossover.
-- Richard Johnson

'Waft-line' fever

Posted 7:10 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
'Waft-line' fever
 
Rolls-Royce chief designer Gilles Taylor points to the "waft line" on the Dawn convertible, the first Roller to be designed entirely under Taylor's direction.
-- Richard Johnson

A home away from Ingolstadt

Posted 6:37 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
A home away from Ingolstadt
 
The German automakers always pull out all the stops in Frankfurt, perhaps none more so than Audi. The automaker doesn't have a display -- no, that would not suffice. Instead, it has its own building.
-- Ryan Beene

Ultra smooth

Posted 6:36 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Ultra smooth
 
It's early on the first press day, but this is the nicest Frankfurt eye candy I've seen so far -- Mercedes' ultra-smooth IAA 2015 concept.
-- Dave Guilford

Koeru Q30-like

Posted 5:42 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Koeru Q30-like
 
On Monday night Infiniti showed the Q30 compact hatch. Today Mazda rolled out the Koeru concept and, subtleties aside, you see a very similar profile. Clearly the vehicle silhouette du jour.
-- Dave Guilford

Astra swarm

Posted 4:01 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Astra swarm
 
GM CEO Mary Barra and Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann draw a media swarm after unwrapping the redesigned 2016 Astra. The compact is Opel's No. 2 nameplate behind the smaller Corsa, together accounting for more than half of the brand's sales.
-- Mike Colias

Launch prep

Posted 3:46 am U.S. ET, Sept. 15
Launch prep
 
Rolls Royce prepares to launch its new convertible.
-- Rick Johnson

The future look of Mercedes

Posted 5:09 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
The future look of Mercedes
 
Mercedes-Benz says its Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile concept unveiled Monday night by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche will inform its design language for years to come. The concept’s interior will show up to a large degree in the redesigned E-class sedan next year. The exterior hints at the brand’s car designs in later years. Mercedes made extensive use of digital design tools to develop the concept in record time of just 10 months. That compares with typical development time of 18 months for a concept car. -- Amy Wilson

Round and round

Posted 2:06 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Round and round
(REUTERS)
 
Jaguar's first crossover, the F-Pace, maneuvers a giant, 360-degree loop during a presentation Monday as part of media previews for the Frankfurt auto show. Jaguar says professional stunt driver Terry Grant underwent two months of intense physical and dietary training to ensure his body was prepared for the 6.5 G-Forces unleashed by the maneuver, which is greater than the forces experienced by space shuttle pilots. The stunt set a Guinness World Record for largest ever loop-the-loop, Jaguar said Monday.

Infiniti goes pint-sized

Posted 4:20 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Infiniti goes pint-sized
(DAVE GUILFORD)
 
Johan de Nysschen, in his short stint as head of Infiniti, set a clear goal of expanding the Nissan premium brand's lineup beyond its U.S.-centric origins. The goal: To get on the radar in Europe and Asia. That meant smaller cars and diesels. De Nysschen has moved on, but the Infiniti Q30 unveiled Monday in Frankfurt fits both criteria, at least in Europe, where the compact hatch, to be followed by a crossover, will have two diesel options. The models arrive -- sans diesels -- in the U.S. in 2016.

Cars and crossovers in a crowd

Posted 3:51 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Cars and crossovers in a crowd
(REUTERS)
 
Volkswagen Group night attracts a throng of company executives and designers, as well as journalists, analysts and others, on Monday.

Audi's Tesla fighter

Posted 3:23 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Audi's Tesla fighter
(REUTERS)
 
Ulrich Hackenberg, head of technical development for Audi, handles duties for the world premiere of Audi's all-electric e-tron Quattro on Monday. The crossover is being developed as a rival to Tesla's Model X.

Porsche goes electric

Posted 3:16 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Porsche goes electric
(REUTERS)
 
Porsche's new electric Mission E concept is introduced by CEO Matthias Mueller Monday in Frankfurt as part of Volkswagen Group night.

Bentayga bows

Posted 3:12 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Bentayga bows
(REUTERS)
 
Bentley CEO Wolfgang Duerheimer presents the ultra-luxury British brand's first SUV, the Bentayga, during Volkswagen Group night on Monday in Frankfurt.

Marchionne skips Frankfurt show to tend to UAW talks

Posted 7:24 am U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Marchionne skips Frankfurt show to tend to UAW talks
 
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has canceled his appearance at the Frankfurt auto show this week after the automaker was picked as the target company in labor talks in the U.S. Marchionne was originally scheduled to meet with the press on Tuesday.

-- Reuters

Silver polish

Posted 12:21 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 14
Silver polish
(REUTERS)
 
The Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo undergoes a fine polish job at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Monday.

Looking back at a bold-faced name

Posted 12:02 pm U.S. ET, Sept. 11
Looking back at a bold-faced name
 
We kick off Show Notes for the 2015 Frankfurt auto show with a look back at a bold-faced name that likely won’t be returning to the exhibit floor this year. Ferdinand Piech, who resigned as supervisory board chairman of Volkswagen AG in April, had been a fixture at the biennial show for years. He’s seen here in a Volkswagen L1 Hybrid concept car as Holger Bock, left, the car's development head, and Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, center, look on, during the opening day of the Frankfurt show on Sept. 17, 2009.
Piech, the 78-year-old grandson of the inventor of the VW Beetle and chairman since 2002, was forced out after attempting to discredit Winterkorn. While his departure ended an era at the German carmaker -- he became VW CEO in 1993 and later pulled the company back from the brink -- recent news reports say Piech prevented Winterkorn from fulfilling his ambition to become chairman, showing the patriarch's ongoing influence behind the scenes. Volkswagen CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch -- viewed as a peacemaker -- has been nominated to become chairman of VW.
-- David Phillips
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