The Frankfurt Motor Show is one of the largest and most important international auto shows in Europe. Although it occurs on an annual basis, it alternates between passenger vehicles one year and commercial vehicles the next. Because of this, the Frankfurt auto show swaps positions with the biannual Paris International Motor Show as Europe's most important auto show.
As you might expect, the Frankfurt auto show is dominated by German manufacturers. Companies like Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche typically use the Frankfurt Motor Show as their launching pad for new models. It's still an international show, however, so there's an occasional U.S. or Japanese debut thrown in for good measure. If there's one thing that distinguishes the Frankfurt Motor Show from the other international auto shows, it's the sheer size of its displays. Spread out over roughly 10 halls, walking the show floor means putting in at least a few good miles. It takes 10 minutes just to get from one hall to another, and once you're in them they have so many cars on display you can spend hours in each one.
In an effort to cut through the clutter, BMW and Mercedes have halls of their very own. They take on different looks with each show, with high-tech displays, dramatic lighting and at least a dozen cars of one form or another. They also serve as the promotional stages for the latest model reveals. Unlike the usual debuts at most other European auto shows, Mercedes and BMW go to great lengths to make it a show. You're apt to see anyone from famous singers to Formula One stars at some of their bigger intros, an atmosphere that gives the Frankfurt auto show a tinge of glamour that you might not otherwise expect in a city known as the financial center of Germany.