By Agence France Presse
Automakers descended on Frankfurt Tuesday, ready to show off their latest innovations at the glitzy International Motor Show (IAA) even as the spectre of tough new environmental rules and a string of no-shows took some of the shine off the event.
On the surface there is nothing but good news at the IAA: the European car industry can boast of five years of non-stop growth, projected to continue this year, and its 12.6 million employees on the Old Continent.
Almost 1,000 exhibitors will fan out across the 200,000-square-metre area — the size of 27 football pitches — of the German financial capital’s trade show grounds.
The show, which opened with two days of media previews on Tuesday, will feature 50 carmakers, a string of parts suppliers and internet giants like Facebook and Google.
And Germany’s VDA car industry federation promises some 228 new models will make their global debut during the show, many of them the urban 4x4s that sprang from nowhere to claim 30 percent of European new car sales over the past 15 years.
But away from the gleaming chassis, high-tech presentations and optimistic keynote speeches, warning lights are blinking on the dashboard of an industry that remains key to Europe’s economic health.