My show British brands are the unlikely stars
THIS YEAR’S Frankfurt show was marked by the background noise of the threat of the eurozone breaking up. As I wandered around the enormous show site, I wondered which manufacturers would feel the heat if we have a second, European credit crunch.
Not the globe-striding premium brands, certainly, which are enjoying almost unprecedented boom times. The unveiling of the Mini Coupé gave BMW director Ian Robertson a chance to put some figures on premium brand success. In the 10 years since the BMW Mini was launched, two million have been shifted. Sales in the first seven months of 2011 are up 25 per cent to 180,000 vehicles, of which a staggering 66,000 (about one-third) are Countryman models. In a year’s time there will be two more Minis (the Roadster and the Paceman coupé) as well as the Mini brand being launched in India.
And who, a decade ago, would have guessed that it would be another Brit concern that stole the 2011 Frankfurt limelight? Jaguar Land Rover kicked off the press day by revealing its new corporate ‘JLR’ logo and then unveiled the muchtrailed C-X16 hardcore two-seat coupé and a pair of concepts that point the way to the next Defender, which is due to go into production in late 2015.
refer to Jaguar’s classic sports car as “you know what”.
Although the bullish premium brands seem well placed, the mainstream manufacturers are likely to be badly hit by another European recession. Nick Reilly, the Brit currently running the ailing GM Europe operation, said that although Vauxhall-Opel had “taken its medicine” and reduced its factory capacity, other mainstream makers hadn’t done the same, which was leading to oversupply and a profitdemolishing showroom price war.
Cuts now, perhaps more later However, just a few hundred metres away, Peugeot’s CEO also admitted that the company may cut more jobs and even a whole plant, as the spectre of a European recession looms. Ford also announced that it was cutting Focus production.
of the show was a gas-powered Volkswagen Up. Although car makers are continuing to invest in pure battery vehicles, the CNG-fuelled Up emits just 79g/km of CO2, which is just about the same as a pure electric vehicle that’s charged using a mains supply.
We saw you doing it And while we’re talking about the Up, I managed to snap one of the classic press day motor show scenes: engineers measuring up their competition’s new cars. This East Asian chap was, in the middle of the media scrum, making detailed measurements of the Up’s pedals with a steel rule and then filling in a specification sheet. Audacious, certainly.
‘For me, one of the highlights of the show was a gas-powered VW Up, which emits just 79g/km’
One company, two approaches The two JLR brands have very different approaches to dealing with their respective heritage. While Land Rover bosses went out of their way to emphasise that the next Defender would be a fullon, rugged off-roader, true to the original, Jaguar’s modernising design boss Ian Callum was determined to ignore the E-type.
The night before Frankfurt opened, Jaguar showed the C-X16 to journalists in a building surrounded by E-types and other historic Jaguars. In his speech, however, Callum would only firstname.lastname@example.org
Both Vauxhall-Opel and PeugeotCitroën are trying to claw their way upmarket and out of the pricesensitive mainstream market. Citroën seems to be making the most convincing effort, with its show stand dominated by the three DS models, including the new, and very striking, DS5 hatchback.
Peugeot’s own HX1 – an elegant, executive-sized, one-box concept – tries to do what the DS seems to have done for Citroën: capture some of the glamour and premium pricing of France’s highly successful luxury goods industry.
For me, one of the real highlights
Fastest Jeep to go right-hand drive Jeep will offer its fastest model yet — the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 — in right-hand drive for the UK next year, company boss Mike Manley revealed at Frankfurt. The 464bhp V8-powered 4x4 is expected to cost just under £60,000.
Suzuki wants to sever VWGroup ties Suzuki tried to gatecrash the VW Group’s pre-show event by asking the German giant to sell its near 20 per cent stake in the firm and dissolve the pair’s partnership. Suzuki said, “There is no longer any purpose to VW’s shareholding.”
24 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 21 SEPTEMBER 2011 FRANKFURTMOTORSHOW2011
1 The march of the Mini brand continued with the new Coupé. Two million Minis have been sold since BMW revived the name 10 years ago. 2 Jaguar Land Rover launched a new logo but all eyes were on its concepts. 3 DC100 edged Land Rover closer to a new Defender. 4 And C-X16 is Jag’s new two-seater. Just don’t mention E-type to Callum (pictured) 3
Maybach celebrates parent’s birthday Maybach marked Mercedes’ 125th anniversary with a one-off concept: the Edition 125, which highlighted the luxury brand’s customisable options. The standard 57 S (pictured) and 62 S also received engine tweaks.
5 The DS5 hatch is helping Citroën to climb up the prestige ladder. 6 Stablemate Peugeot is hoping to follow, as the XH1 concept showed. 7 Volkswagen showed a CNG-powered Up. 8 And a rival firm’s rule-toting engineer got the measure of it
Gordon Murray pursues fuel cells Gordon Murray has struck a deal to investigate building an affordable fuel-cell research vehicle over the next 12 months. Murray will partner UK-based ACAL Energy, which has found a way to build fuel cells without platinum.
21 SEPTEMBER 2011 WWW.AUTOCAR.CO.UK 25