Frankfurt Motor Show reflects German automakers' past, present and future

If the world's motor shows are tied to the fortunes of their host countries, it seems unsurprising that Auto Shanghai is bigger than ever and that much of the gloss seems to have come off the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

It also follows that a show held in Germany should display some of the quiet confidence, emphasis on high quality and heavy investment in the future that has recently characterized famous German brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi - and that's exactly what September's Frankfurt International Motor Show is set to do.

For the 2011 event, the show's 64th year, organizers have chosen the theme 'Future Comes as Standard', a fitting epithet for the current cars which are rolling out of factories in Munich, Stuttgart and Ingolstadt, loaded with consumer technology and green innovations which would have been unimaginable just five years ago.

Investment in the future may be where German car brands know they can pull away from much of the competition, but they certainly won't have the floor to themselves at Frankfurt - some 800 visitors from 30 countries are expected to be in attendance.

Nor will they have the monopoly on debuting their latest vehicles and concepts, with hundreds of new designs expected to be unveiled over the show's ten-day run.

The list of international names to watch seems endless, although some of the most high-profile unveilings are expected from BMW i, Audi, Volkswagen and Opel, alongside luxury names such as Jaguar, Porsche, Maserati and Ferrari.

With nearly a million visitors expected (fewer than Detroit, but more than Geneva and Shanghai) it won't all be about new models either - separate sections of the show are given over to green vehicles, auto parts and the history of the automobile.

For kids, there will also be a cinema and 'test-rides' along with practical hands-on areas, an outdoor go-kart track, and a Model Car Collectors' fair, which runs over the weekend of September 17-18.

Judging from the pre-show buzz, this year's event could prove one of the most significant yet in terms of its impact on the global automotive stage; a fitting way, perhaps, to celebrate the anniversary of the world's first combustion-engined, three-wheel automobile developed by Karl Benz 125 years ago in Germany.

The Frankfurt International Motor Show runs September 15-25 (press days 13-14) in Frankfurt, Germany, with tickets from €13.


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