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Michaela Heinz and Hanna Missalla model with the new Seat Ibiza Ecomotive at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The show, where most manufacturers are presenting some kind of ecology-friendly vehicle, opens to the public on Saturday and runs through Sept. 23.
Michaela Heinz and Hanna Missalla model with the new Seat Ibiza Ecomotive at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The show, where most manufacturers are presenting some kind of ecology-friendly vehicle, opens to the public on Saturday and runs through Sept. 23. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Michaela Heinz and Hanna Missalla model with the new Seat Ibiza Ecomotive at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The show, where most manufacturers are presenting some kind of ecology-friendly vehicle, opens to the public on Saturday and runs through Sept. 23.
Michaela Heinz and Hanna Missalla model with the new Seat Ibiza Ecomotive at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. The show, where most manufacturers are presenting some kind of ecology-friendly vehicle, opens to the public on Saturday and runs through Sept. 23. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
One of the most elegant cars on display at this year's Frankfurt International Motor Show is the Citroen Airscape, a two-door, full-size convertible study based onits C5 model. The show, where most manufacturers are presenting some kind of ecology-friendly vehicle, opens to the public on Saturday and runs through Sept. 23.
One of the most elegant cars on display at this year's Frankfurt International Motor Show is the Citroen Airscape, a two-door, full-size convertible study based onits C5 model. The show, where most manufacturers are presenting some kind of ecology-friendly vehicle, opens to the public on Saturday and runs through Sept. 23. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Visitors to the 63rd IAA -- the Frankfurt International Motor Show -- check out Mercedes' "Road to the Future" exhibit at the show. All the cars shown here either have low fuel consumption or are powered by alternative energy.
Visitors to the 63rd IAA -- the Frankfurt International Motor Show -- check out Mercedes' "Road to the Future" exhibit at the show. All the cars shown here either have low fuel consumption or are powered by alternative energy. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Visitors to the 63rd IAA -- the Frankfurt International Motor Show -- get a look at a sleek Maserati GranTurismo.
Visitors to the 63rd IAA -- the Frankfurt International Motor Show -- get a look at a sleek Maserati GranTurismo. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

European edition, Friday, September 14, 2007

FRANKFURT, Germany — The blue-suited Christian Hake leaned against a black Quattroporte Sport GT and uttered something dreamy.

“Why shouldn’t American guys drive a Maserati?” he said, smiling.

Few things get a guy’s imagination spinning more than the lure of a new car, especially a cool, fast pricey model. And for a truly dizzying experience, there is the Frankfurt International Motor Show, a biennial event that opens to the public starting Saturday.

About 1,000 exhibitors from 40 countries have gathered under 10 roofs at the Frankfurt Messe (convention center) to talk up their cars and parts for nine days. Much of the emphasis is on hybrid vehicles, with seemingly every maker pushing one concept car or another.

“It’s the new technology, to save energy,” said Henry Gmelin, a Mercedes engineer. “We want to have performance and save energy.”

All of the major auto companies, U.S. and foreign, have floor space. But as with some grand museum, a person would be hard pressed to see it all in one day. Instead, most visitors pick their spots and float from there.

Within the auto industry, the Frankfurt show is top shelf, which explains why car makers have chosen this venue to premiere 88 new models.

Helping to promote them are models of a different make.

“It’s our job to lean on the car and pose and make people see it as more sporty,” said blond-haired Hanna Missalla, tucked inside a skin-tight, yellow and black leather outfit.

She was showing off a SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive, billed as the company’s most economical and clean-burning car.

Other cars of note include Cadillac's first station wagon; the Ford Verve, a spiffy little number; and Volkswagen’s City Expert, a compact built to challenge Smart. On the high end, Mercedes-Benz is introducing its F700 concept car, said to be loaded with new environmental technologies.

With all the emphasis on carbon emissions, “it’s going to be difficult for the big car makers,” said Miroslaw Korek, a marketing man for Faurecia, which designs and sells interior automotive equipment. “The ‘green guys’ are shooting for them.”

Hybrid and fuel-efficient cars aside, the Frankfurt show offers an incredible medley of motorized vehicles that overload the senses and tickle our fancy. And then there are men like Hake, willing to put people in the front seat of a Maserati, for a mere $120,000.

That’s the starting price.

“It’s a new world,” he said.

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