Event Coverage: 2009 Essen Motor Show

If you likened Europe’s Essen Motor Show as a bit like SEMA you wouldn’t be far off. Both of these aftermarket fall extravaganzas are the place where the major market tuners show their lines and where builders of the nuttiest modified cars display their creations. Both too are major attractions on the calendar and both attract car manufacturers’ participation inconsistently at best. Volkswagen usually exhibits at Essen, sharing the latest from Volkswagen Accessories and Volkswagen Motorsport, Audi Accessories, Audi Sport and Exclusive production from quattro GmBH though Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt surprisingly dropped Essen from its docket this year. Combine that with down attendance by the tuners and one could quickly see that, like SEMA, Essen was a bit off of its game due to the down economy.

If Volkswagen and Audi’s absence seems out of the ordinary, maybe it shouldn’t. We’re told Skoda was the only Volkswagen Group marque in attendance this year and the Czech marque was only joined by Fiat and Alfa Romeo as representative of the entire car industry.

As for Skoda, Essen was business as usual. A wide Skoda space displaying the entire range was highlighted by a performance-focused design study. Based on its rally-inspired Octavia RS, the white on black RS+ concept boasted boosted power, additional diffusers and custom red leather interior.

So VW didn’t attend but you have to assume some sort of corporate commitment remained. Several Audi R8 LMS racers were on display at the Essen Messe along with Audi’s Frankfurt IAA R8 design study polished to a mirror finish.

Though the tuner field was constricted this year, several Volkswagen Group focused firms remained fixtures in Essen. Wetterauer showed a new Mk6 GTI. Audi tuner PPI was a bit more conservative this year, showing a Q7 and a TT. SKN was also there with a Sciroccom, Audi S5 and a new B8 S4. Rieger boasted a world premiere with their new Riegerified take on the Audi R8 and latest sixth-gen GTI that were joined by Rieger-touched examples of the Scirocco, Audi A5 coupe and TT as well. One of the meanest-looking VWs had to be the XS Sallus widebody Scirocco complete with headlight clusters from an Audi R8.

Unlike SEMA, the Essen Motor Show is open to the public and boasts a media only day. Granted, it crams a schedule into that most busy season between the North American holiday of Thanksgiving and the major winter holidays so this event remains a bit off of American visitors’ radar, but it the show is still a very effective way to track the European Audi aftermarket… even better when Audi returns here hopefully next year.

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