Fleet News

Frankfurt dominated by 'small' thinkers

THINKING small dominated the world's biggest motor show when the doors swung open on Germany's sprawling centennial celebration of the car. But despite landmark reveals of mid-size newcomers from Volkswagen and General Motors at the Frankfurt Motor Show, a high proportion of the record 33 debuts submitted by leading manufacturers focuses significant attention on the burgeoning supermini sector.

Based at the massive IAA trade fair complex, the show features almost 1,100 exhibitors from 41 countries - a far cry indeed from the eight 'motor carriages' which were on display when the first event was staged in the foyer of Berlin's Bristol Hotel back in 1897.

Leading the march to make personal mobility more compatible with a new era of environmental friendliness is Smart, the first super-compact which is built by MMC AG and which is to be launched in Europe next spring. For a diminutive model which measures only 2.50 metres from bumper to bumper and weighs in at just 680kg, it is making a remarkable impact.

By the year 2000, the joint venture between Daimler-Benz and watchmaker SMH is hoping to be selling 200,000 vehicles each year in three versions priced between DM16,000 and DM20,000. Initially, Smart will come with a 599cc three-cylinder engine which is turbocharged and produces 40kW at 5,250rpm.

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