Frankfurt Auto Show 2013

By Ninad Pundalik

On a whim, I decided to go all the way back to the first post on this blog. I was a little shocked to note that it has been more than 5 years since I have been irregularly blogging. But, I was more than a little surprised to note that one of my passions had absolutely zero mention. Like every other guy, I am a #PetrolHead.

My parents say that if I was left with my toy cars, they rarely had to worry about me breaking things in the house. As I grew up and began to read, I started collecting back issues of automotive magazines. An uncle worked in a government organization devoted to automobiles. Every holiday season, I would go to his home and pick up a stack of issues. Sunday afternoons at home were spent in watching Schumacher dominating the Formula 1 charts. At the age of 14, I could recognise most vehicles on Indian roads by their head (or tail) lamps. By 16, I could recognize them by the sound of their engines and/or horns.

However, college beckoned and I landed up in a campus where vehicles were forbidden for students. Other passions captured my attention, and automobiles took a backseat. There were the occasional lapses, like when I visited the Delhi Auto Expo in 2009, watched Hamilton dethrone Schumi and subscribed to a year of Top Gear (the magazine). But, it mostly was the long forgotten best friend from childhood.

So, when I found out that the Frankfurt Auto Show was scheduled for September 2013, I wasn’t really sure what I should be expecting. The after taste of the Delhi Auto Expo had been a little bitter, partly due to it being in Delhi, and partly due to the humongous crowd. To add to the woes, I had no company for the trip and this was my first real journey in Europe. With gritted teeth, I packed my bag, charged my camera battery, and headed to Frankfurt. I’m glad I did, because I completed a dream of a lifetime. I’ve never created a bucket list of things to do, but this would surely have been on it.

The weekend was hectic, as the Frankfurt Fair Center (Messe) is huge, and there was a lot of ground to cover. All in all, my shortlisted and categorised collection of snaps show that I visited close to 40 manufacturer stands. I noticed a few things in those 48 hours:

  • This is, first and foremost, a sales event. Next, it is a marketing event. It might possibly have some educational value. So, the social hierarchy in this event was families and young couples at the top, and camera toting geeks like me at the bottom.
  • The entire event was planned and executed in such a way that the local tourism, food and beverage industry will get a huge impetus. I’m pretty sure that the Delhi Auto Expo does this as well, and there is room for improvement in how Delhi does it.
  • Due to the above mentioned social hierarchy, consumer car makers ruled the roost in the entire show. The largest stands were by the likes of Renault, Volkswagen and Skoda.
  • All stands put their most valuable cars behind glass barriers, a few feet away from the audience. All, except Porsche.
  • The overall crowd distribution was a little more equitably balanced between the manufacturer and ancillary stands. However, I remember seeing a lot more auto-ancillary stands in the Delhi show.
  • The crowd was definitely not as bad as Delhi, but it was still more than my expectations.
  • The Frankfurt show had outside/driving events. I am not so sure whether Delhi had them.
  • The show was a celebration of local manufacturers. The Audi, and Mercedes-Benz stands were overflowing with people. The Audi stands even had people queued up outside it for about 15 minutes. The BMW and Volkswagen stands did not pull as much crowd though. Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW had among the most impressive decor/ambience.
  • However, the prize for the best stand would undoubtedly go to Mini. The bright colours, red-carpet treatment and fun activities ensured that it would be hard to forget for visitors.
  • Mention must also be made of the Suzuki stand. The music selection was way better than any other place, and the presenters danced/jiggled. This gave the entire place a nice energy/character.
  • The Continental stand was a personal surprise. I’ve known them as a tyre company for all these years. But, they seem to have a lot of diverse interests, automatic driving being one of them.
  • Most manufacturers have atleast one concept or production electronic model. The days of combustion powered vehicles seem to be numbered :(.

Some glimpses from the trip, on my Flickr profile.

I look forward to attend another edition of this event, hopefully soon!