The biennial Frankfurt Motor Show revved up this week with 50 carmakers and 1000 exhibitors plying their shiny new wares across 200,000 square metres of display space. Truly living up to its reputation as the Worlds ‘biggest’ car show that’s the equivalent of 27 full sized football fields. And I can fully believe it as I’ve covered almost every square inch of it and have the blisters to prove it…
So what metal was on show this year? Well, no prizes for guessing that the German automotive titans of Mercedes, VW and BMW all have a gargantuan presence. Given they are on their home turf they have brought out the big guns. But none more so than Mercedes who previewed their Bugatti-baiting AMG ‘Project One’ hypercar. The statistics are brain curdling: 1,000 bhp on tap delivered by no less than 4 electric motors (by my rudimentary calculations that’s roughly one for each wheel), coupled to an F1-sourced V6 petrol engine that can collectively rev to a redline of 11,000rpm. Cost? A wallet busting £2,000,000. Well, I can’t see them selling many of those can y… oh what’s that you say? Ah, I see. The initial run of 275 cars is already sold out.
Some of the no-shows from this years event? Fiat, Peugeot, Mazda and Volvo were all notable by their absence. Interesting given that they were all present at the Geneva show several months ago. Maybe it’s because they have nothing new to showcase since then? Possibly it’s just the phenomenal costs associated with these events that has put them off? Or could it be that they want to focus on electric, connected and autonomous vehicles so maybe they believe that CES is becoming a better venue for those innovations?
Talking of electrification, it seems that everyone is jumping on the bandwagon with a whole slew of new all-electric or hybrid variants on offer. There were more electric vehicles than you can shake a stick at (although I’m not quite sure why you would want to shake a stick at them) but the all new Mini E, Volkswagen ID and Honda Urban were the pick of the bunch. Don’t expect to see any of these on sale until 2019 at the earliest though.
The award for the coolest concept car at the show goes to the Renault Symbioz. A Jetsons type vision of what type of car we might be driving in 2030, it is fully autonomous, all-electric and totally connected. It will drop you off inside your home, then dutifully take itself to it’s own dedicated room inside the house (a garage is soooo last Century), clean itself and then recharge whilst simply standing there like a piece of artwork to be admired.
And as the World slowly adapts to an all-electric future, in the 70th anniversary year of the petrol headed behemoth that is Ferrari it’s clear that are not really that interested in such things. Their contribution to the show was their all new replacement for the California T, the quite exquisite, fully loaded, all petrol V6, convertible Portofino. 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, 200 mph top speed and no doubt messy hair…
And to conclude, I wonder if you can guess who did the keynote speech for this years event?
Maybe an icon of the motoring industry? Nope.
A prominent politician perhaps? Try again.
Pop star? Hollywood A-lister? Nein.
It was none other than Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook.
Why Facebook I hear you ask? Well they have been named as a New World Mobility partner for the event. Matthias Wissman, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, describes it thus:
“Mobility is a topic that affects people on Facebook. That makes social networks an interesting partner for the automotive industry, as influencers, analysis tools and especially as innovative technology developers”
And it’s abundantly clear that Facebook want some proverbial skin in the game when it comes to the future of mobility as they talk about how they want to be instrumental in the evolution of transportation and how their AI platforms could be used as an interface. So might we expect a Maserati Messenger, Fiat Facebook or Infiniti Instagram any time soon? Watch this space…