INTERNATIONAL - Frankfurt's vast motor show, which opens next week, is already getting attention of the wrong kind - for its impressive list of no-shows.

Besides the glaring absence of Tesla and its electric Model 3, the roster of big names staying away has grown this year to include such venerable brands as Nissan, Peugeot, Fiat, Volvo, Jeep, Mitsubishi and Infiniti.

The uncertain fortunes of the traditional car show mirror those of an industry in flux, its incumbents threatened by emissions regulation, tech giants and the sharing economy.

“Car shows need a new approach,” said Patrick Koller, chief executive of Faurecia, a parts supplier with 19billion (R291.34bn) in global sales. “Otherwise they will disappear.” Frankfurt and Paris host two of the world’s biggest shows in alternate years, punctuated by the Detroit show in January and events in China, Japan, the US and Switzerland.

But many of the traditional gatherings have seen visitor numbers fall since the turn of this century, when most new cars were still unveiled under their lights, framed by show girls.

The decline may be accelerating. The Paris attendance was down by 14percent last year - with fear of attacks also weighing on tourism - and January’s Detroit show drew 9000 fewer visitors. 

- REUTERS