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Frankfurt’s likely green buzz not quite what it seems
AID Newsletter Editorial 1316 from Peter Schmidt - September 04th 2013
Published: Wed, 04th September 2013 13:38:08 GMT

Mercedes outside Frankfurt Motor Show IAA 2013

Open quote signFor all the fine words and smiles at next week’s opening of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Europe’s biggest, the release of yesterday’s German car sales numbers has probably played its part to both spoil and yet rekindle the previously expected party spirit. 

A switch in Frankfurt’s underlying party theme now looks likely.

Instead of the expected August car sales gain, thus setting an upbeat and positive backdrop to this year’s show, a largely unexpected 5.5 per cent drop in Germany’s August car sales couldn’t fail but pour cold water on the idea that July’s minor car sales gain finally marked the end of the long drawn out car sales drought. 

Not only for Germany, but also for the entire West European region. Last month’s disappointing sales dip is bound to rekindle deeply harboured fears that Europe's biggest car market is at best treading water, rather than heading for the long-desired path to sustainable recovery. 

Spare a thought for autoindustry strategists. 

Not knowing whether to laugh or cry after burning the midnight oil helping to write upbeat Frankfurt Show speeches for their CEOs, after last month’s German car sales slippage speech writers could only bin their earlier drafts and start all over again.

Attending industry bigwigs will undoubtedly put a positive spin on latest statistics. Germany’s VDA, upbeat even at the worst of time, will conceivably home in on the fact that Germany’s electric car sales this August rose 76.1 per cent. 

A God’s gift for the VDA’s spin architects, because that means that this August electric cars were Germany’s fastest growing segment, conceivably leading to trumpet-blaring acclamations of a bright future for battery cars. 

Less will be made for related news that that outwardly impressive surge helped lift Germany’s total haul for August to 435 electric cars, presumably lifted by a healthy dose of pre-registered i3 BMWs. 

Whatever the cause, it adds up to a fitting backdrop to this year’s likely Frankfurt show theme.

Brushing aside the still uncertain economic backdrop against which this year’s eventual German car sales have to be assessed, for Germany’s prestige carmakers, if not for all exhibitors, the flavour at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show will ostensibly be low and ultra-low CO
2 cars. 

Looking ahead with trepidation at the EU’s tough 95g/km CO
2 fleet average limit from 2020 onwards could probably explains why for Germany’s prestige carmakers in particular an awful lot is riding on the success of their imminent flurry of new low and ultra-low CO2 cars. 

That’s not to say that their traditional muscle cars will be relegated to also-ran exhibits at next week’s Frankfurt show.

If Germany’s autoindustry gets its way on the hotly debated and politically highly charged area of super credits for the ultra-low CO
2 emitting cars it plans to bring to market from now on, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Audi for instance are presented with a potential win-win scenario. 

Their next generation plug-in hybrids, accompanied by pure plug-in battery cars - with next week’s Frankfurt show allowing us a first glimpse into that electric car future - holds promise of turning into a licence to print money. 

Given the nod for the desired deal on super credits, and safe in the knowledge that future i3 and i8 registrations will generously swell its balance of accumulated super credits, beyond 2020 BMW for one can still market its profit-rich muscle cars without impunity. 


The banked super credits from its plug-in cars like the i3 will likely balance out the CO
2 emissions from its markedly more profitable larger and heavier more polluting cars. 

Frankfurt 2013, at least for Germany’s domestic automotive giants, will have a deep green flavour, but it ain’t exactly what it seems.
Close quote sign

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