• Motor show season fires up once more
  • The buzzwords are "big" and "green"
  • Even the concept cars seem more serious

At first glance, it might seem like international auto shows such as the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show are strictly for girls with a little grease under their nails or guys with lots of cash in their pockets. We'll admit, European car shows have a tendency to attract serious automotive enthusiasts, but there is something the average new car shopper can learn, too. If you don't want to end up spending $30,000 on a car that's about to be replaced with a new, sexier model, you should pay attention to big, international auto shows like those in Los Angeles, Detroit, Tokyo and Frankfurt.

The Frankfurt Auto Show opens the new season of world-class auto shows. It represents that back-to-business feeling as summer ends, kids go to school and barbecue grills cool down.

Frankfurt happens every two years, alternating with Paris. Being in Germany, the show isn't so glamorous. But it compensates by being huge. The previous event in 2011 housed more than 1,000 exhibitors and saw nearly one million visitors.

An indication of size: This year's Volkswagen stand accommodates 53 cars. It took more than 24 days to build and covers 96,000 square feet (the equivalent of at least 1.5 football fields).

And that's only one brand. All the other major German players will be claiming their extravagant share of exhibition space. It's like the Super Bowl for these guys.

Just because the show is happening in Europe, don't think it's irrelevant to vehicle buyers in the United States. The next great set of wheels could come from anywhere, and many world debuts are expected. But let's give our German hosts some attention first.

Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and VW

Hybrids, hybrids everywhere. Audi's Quattro E-Tron is a concept plug-in hybrid, but there are strong hints about going into production -- and becoming the most expensive Audi ever. The face-lifted 2015 Audi A8 luxury sedan (running a conventional drivetrain) might even seem a bargain by comparison.

The 2015 BMW i8 is a diesel hybrid sports car and could achieve 95 miles per gallon. BMW also has a plug-in hybrid version of its large SUV, the X5 eDrive, which is not so much a concept as a potential variant.

Over at Mercedes-Benz will be a plug-in hybrid of the company's flagship sedan, the S-Class.

Porsche takes hybrid power to two extremes. One is the production version of the 918 Spyder limited-edition supercar. The other is a plug-in hybrid of the Panamera luxury sedan.

Meanwhile, in VW's expanse, electricity taken neat is the order of the day in a battery-powered e-Golf and a subcompact city car called the e-Up.

Jaguar and Range Rover

Yes, more hybrids, and this time they are powering a Range Rover and a Range Rover Sport, each running diesel fuel. They are unlikely candidates for the North American market right now, but the necessity of offering cleaner and more energy-efficient products could see a change.

Jaguar is unveiling a luxury crossover SUV concept in departure from the marque's usual output.

Chevrolet

An American in Frankfurt. Midcycle revisions applied to the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Coupe are now evident in the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, which will be unveiled here. (The Camaro is available in Europe.)

Nissan

Making its world debut is the 2014 Nissan Rogue, an all-new generation of this compact crossover.

Conceptual Thinking

Every frankfurter needs a bun, and every car show needs concepts; one feels incomplete without the other. Getting a lot of a pre-show attention is the Infiniti Q30, a premium compact hatchback that slides in just below the crossover SUV threshold.

Lexus brings the LF-NX, a midsize crossover concept complete with hybrid drivetrain.

Toyota, Ford, Kia and Volvo are also displaying concepts that herald future design ideas along with new technologies.

The 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show's press days are September 10 and 11. AutoTrader.com will be reporting all the highlights. If you happen to be in the area, the show's public days run from September 12 to 22.

What it means to you: For eco-aware drivers, the choices become greater. For fans of German machines, Christmas has arrived early.

See all Frankfurt Auto Show news

author photo

Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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