|September 12, 2005
Live from Frankfurt: Day One
As a first time visitor of the Frankfurt Auto Show, I asked many of my colleagues what to expect from this famed automotive show. Over and over, one statement stood out from any other: Wear good walking shoes.
It would have been nice to receive this excellent advice before the show. Sometimes you have to live and learn, and today I learned that my choice of footwear was not made for all-day walking. At the end of this first press-preview day, my feet are killing me. Fortunately, I have different shoes to wear tomorrow and with Audi's press conference out of the way today, the day can be taken with ease.
Earlier this morning, Audi held their press conference, which was broadcast live on the internet. I'm thinking that may have been a better way to witness this press conference, rather than being squeezed between hundreds of other journalists, photographers, and cameramen. Unlike recent auto shows, Audi did not debut anything new and truly spectacular. There had been rumors of a concept of the next generation TT or possibly a near production ready R9, but in the end, they were rumors and nothing unexpected was shown.
The big news was the public debut for Audi's SUV, the Q7. Audi has been providing details for the Q7 all year long via their Q7 Globe website. With regular spy photos, sneak peaks to journalists, and official information and photos release weeks ago the Q7 debut was anything but surprising. While I can understand the excitement for this vehicle by many in the audience, I'm one of the few who had already seen the Q7 in the flesh.
The one truly surprising item of the press conference was the debut of the Q7 Hybrid along side its 3.0 TDI and 4.2 V8 siblings. Powered by 4.2 liter, FSI direct-injection V8 engine, it incorporates an electric motor between the gasoline engine and the transmission torque converter. The battery is located below the luggage compartment floor. Audi claims that the Q7 Hybrid consumes 13% less fuel than a conventional Q7. Officially the Q7 Hybrid is a concept vehicle, with no current plans for series production. We're told that it will take 3 years to bring it to production if and when it is green-lighted, so don't put your deposits down yet.
No specific information was given on U.S. spec Q7's, but Audi of America representatives state that it will debut with the 4.2 V8 engine. There are no current plans for the 3.0 TDI to make it to the States, but with gas prices the way they are, we're sure Audi of America is doing all it can to get it into the line-up soon.
Also making its first public showing was the face-lifted Audi A4 Cabriolet. With this debut, the entire Audi lineup sports the new corporate face, with the exception of the TT. Expect the updated A4 Cabriolet on North American shores later next year.
For those who are regularly in the line-of-fire, Audi released information for the A6 and A8 Security models. These armor-plated models, which have been tested and certified by the Munich Weapons Testing Office, provide protection against shots fired from hand held pistols and revolvers up to a .44 Magnum caliber. Guess Dirty Harry may be out of a job. They are fitted with all sort of cool James Bond gadgets, such as PAX run-flat tires and an optional intercom system for communicating with people outside the car.
Of course, the entire Audi line-up was represented on the show floor as well.
Unfortunately, today's report needs to be cut short. Look for more news, updates, and photos from the show floor tomorrow. There is a lot to see and experience at the show, and hopefully I'll be able to cover the majority before the end of the day.