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Frankfurt Motorshow 2011

13 September 2011 No Comment

Frankfurt is always going to throw up a few new car and innovation surprises, as well as cause for reflection and the revisiting/reinvention of all those classic models we know and love.

On the latter, it seems the new Honda Civic 2011 (above) move sideways from it’s previous incarnation, in terms of the styling at least. We hear that the previous car, whose styling has been described as saucer-like, did little to diminish sales, dropped the average age of Civic customers from 61 to 53! This paragon of endurance and engine technology will continue to be built in Swindon and has been designed in Europe, for the European market.

Of other interest is Eterniti – take note, not Infiniti – motors, a motoring start up from London. I only mention these here because of the obvious contrast with the short story which follows, in terms of the ethos and strategy which powers their business.

Of course we would normally praise a British start up, bringing innovation and captial to the local marketplace. But who are Eterniti, not Infiniti cars?

Sod it, let’s lump them in with Infiniti and call the ammalgamation Inferniti, because they both really do the same sort of thing.

Inferniti , for example, take the Porsche Cayenne 4×4, and rebody the thing at there London factory, bringing it up to an even higher spec. They will revise certain of the body panels so the car is subtly different from the Porsche base-product, but mainly they will pimp up the inside to take iPads and drinks chillers and have a couple of reclining seats.

Apparently these pimped cars are aimed squarely at the international luxury sporting SUV market. Think gangsters in Bulgaria and Russia, and American Government-sponsored oligarchs in oil-rich central asian republics. Bodyguard details Kazakhstan-wide will surely be dripping at the prospect of playing their PS3s in the ultimate comfort.

So why the sour face here? Because an enterprise based so clearly on marketing information sounds cycnical in the extreme. So far, Eterniti has confirmed that Alastair Macqueen and Johnny Herbert are involved. Wow. Eterniti is based in London and is backed by an international consortium with experience in retail, premium products, motor sport and high-end components.

In marked contrast to the above we find news of the new Lotus Exige S, surely a story to rekindle the fires of tradition and integrity. With a brand theme which purports always to ‘add lightness’, Lotus are a manufacturer sticking to a principle which can bee seen running deep into the styling of their cars. Lightwieght, less-is-more technology designed to make you really think about the car you are driving, a dinosaur philosophy in so many repsects but one which continues to sell reasonably well.

But now we have a new-ish CEO at Lotus, Dany Bahar, whose avowed aim it is to revise the company’s strategy. And this is the man who, when interviewed by the Financial Times about his sartorial choices, says of his suit maker:

‘I was introduced to this Italian tailor and, after several months of working with him, we found the right style for my body.’

Also, of his watch choice:

‘As a watch lover I choose the ones which speak to me.’

It’s one of the quirks of wealth fantasy that it must, at some point however ridiculous, have its roots in the real world. And it seems that Lotus in an attempt to drag itself into the modern world has appointed a CEO who will bring the required sense of luxury and pomposity to the marque. Bahar is adding weight to the marque, both literally and figuratively – the new Exixe is 19% heavier than its predecessor. And while this will alarm some Lotus purists it will reassure others that this grand old dame of British motoring history is marrying into the modern world, with a view to its survival in the long term.

How long before we get a Lotus SUV?