Big differences are evident on the Frankfurt show floor today between bank-watching financial hacks and car execs. The money men seem full of foreboding, concerned that Europe's central currency is about to implode, with all the uncertainties this will bring; the car men are full of predictions that annual world demand cars will rise from today's mere 70 million to 100 million plus around 2020, when customers in India and China truly get going.
Listened to several highly-placed car men - Ford's CFO Lewis Booth most prominent among them - practically begging the money-men to consider the bigger picture.
It's a fair point. The best-run car companies have just survived a heart-stopping recession and configured themselves for new conditions. Ford, which a few years ago was losing money in an American market whose total sales were running at 17 million cars, is now making billions in a market of just 11.8 million cars. Booth certainly does not look forward to another year as bad as 2008, but makes the point that his company - and others like it - are better prepared to handle the problems if they were to come again.
In any case, America's market will grow soon, according to Ford and Chevy predictions. There are 270 million vehicles on the road there, apparently, and only 11 million of them are being replaced annually. It’s too few. Soon America's cars will be too tired to keep doing the business...