A crowd gathers at the Audi stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Automakers are hoping the big event will signal the end of Europe's worst car sales downturn in two decades.
With an estimated 70 all-new or significantly updated products and concept vehicles on display, the auto industry has big hopes for this month’s Frankfurt Motor Show – in itself a good sign considering the downright dour mood at other recent European auto shows.
It’s been a truly awful period for the Continental industry. Hammered by a devastating economic recession that came close to crushing the euro and even breaking up the European Union itself, car sales dipped to their lowest level in two decades during the first months of 2013. But there have been signs of life this summer, particularly in the retail side of the market where not only are more customers returning to showrooms but they’re also spending more to opt up what they buy.
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“We’re about to see the end of five years of decline,” predicted Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of the Euro-Asian Renault-Nissan Alliance, during a news conference at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
His assessment was shared by a number of competitors. But while there’s a growing sense of light at the end of the tunnel, some skeptics continue to wonder whether what they’re really seeing is just another brushfire.