By Jeff Gilbert, CBS Detroit
FRANKFURT — (WWJ) Europeans have discovered a type of vehicle that’s become the hottest market in the U.S. — small SUVs.
“It gives the consumer extra space, and still good fuel economy,” said Mike Hanley, who leads the global auto team at Ernst and Young.
Several crossovers were unveiled during the first day of the Frankfurt Auto Show, including a new S-Max from Ford. The show also featuring lots of wagon versions of small cars, like a Honda Civic Tourer, that won’t likely come to the United States.
But some American style cars are coming to Europe. Crowds gathered around a Corvette Stingray and a Chevrolet Camaro.
Thomas Sedran, who heads Chevrolet of Europe, said over 700 enthusiasts came to an even recently to see the new Corvette. Sedran has driven the vehicle on more sedate roads. But, he’s preparing to take a Corvette onto parts of the German AutoBahn that have no speed limits.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “I will have my first experience in the new C-7 in a German AutoBahn on Thursday.”
The new Camaro sets up a pony car challenge in Europe, when Ford brings the Mustang here in a year or so. Ford of Europe President Lawrence Odell says there’s a lot of anticipation.
“It’s a lovely flagship and a banner for the Ford brand across Europe. I know it’s a big opportunity for us to do something significant with the brand.”
Ford also showing some upscale models on its stand. It’s launching the Europe only Vignale trim. It’s aimed at those who want more than just a fully loaded Ford. The company showing Vignale versions of the Mondeo, a sedan similar to the Fusion in the U.S.
“We have enough understanding of our customers to know that there are current Ford customers who would be willing to pay more for a different experience, for a product with even higher content,” said Barb Samardzich, who head’s Ford’s product development team in Europe. “So, it just makes a lot of sense to take advantage of that.”