They’re calling this a ‘reduced’ Frankfurt motor show, because of the non-participation of the likes of Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Aston Martin and many others.
But we reporters are far happier using the term ‘compact’, for two very good reasons. The first is that we have less walking to do this year. The second — and much more important — is that the non-attendees have allowed more space for a couple of truly historic events.
What motor show could be considered less than important if it featured a) the debut of the Volkswagen ID 3, the first in new family of electric cars and therefore as significant as the Beetle and the Golf; and b) a new Land Rover Defender conceived to replace the Wilks Brothers’ revered 4x4 original, launched 71 years ago?
On top of that, we have Porsche bidding to outdo Tesla (plus Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and others) as the leading purveyor of premium electric cars with the recently revealed Taycan. And there’s a whole bevy of new electric cars from the likes of Honda and Opel-Vauxhall that face up to the opposed (and fiendishly difficult) problems of making them compact, affordable and capable of a decent touring range all at the same time.
Normally, these smaller models would be very decent draw cards at what is still Europe’s biggest motor show, and rightfully so. But this year we’re looking at the kind of debuts from Volkswagen and Land Rover that build new icons that will impact the industry for years, not just decent new models that fizz busily for six to eight years before being deliberately extinguished by something new.