Frankfurt Auto Show kicks off with visit from German Chancellor Angela Merkel

September 15, 2011

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been working feverishly in recent days alongside other European leaders to save Greece from defaulting on its debt and triggering a financial crisis in Europe and throughout the world.

But Thursday — after speaking out against the idea of German-backed euro zone bonds -- Merkel got the chance to do something decidedly less consequential when she visited the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. During the 10-day exhibition, German automakers and some of their international counterparts show off their latest and most innovative designs.

Merkel checked out a Mercedes-Benz F-125 and took a seat inside the Ford Evos, BMW i3, and a buggy concept car from Volkswagen.

It’s not the first time a politician has visited an auto industry event as a show of support for domestic manufacturing. In 2010, Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood attended the Detroit Auto Show as beleaguered U.S. automakers were aiming to get back on track after Chrysler and GM received a government bailout. Pelosi planned to visit the annual exhibition again this year, but canceled her plans at the last minute.

The Frankfurt auto show is a massive event. According to organizers, more than 1,000 exhibitors fill a space that could cover 33 soccer fields. This year, the show will host the premieres of 183 new vehicles.

Matthias Wissmann, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, said during the event’s opening ceremony that it was expected to draw about 800,000 visitors.

Sarah Halzack is a reporter and Web editor for Capital Business. She covers the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. Previously, she was a Web producer for the Post's daily business and economic news section. She occasionally writes for other sections at the Post, most frequently in the form of dance reviews, dance features, book reviews and obituaries.
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