VW Takes on Toyota

Volkswagen Chief Martin Winterkorn has big plans for VW. He wants to become the world's biggest car maker and has Toyota's success as this role model.

Toyota, meanwhile, is staring to show some first signs of rust. Long the darling of the auto industry, Toyota now finds itself with lackluster sales growth and in desperate need of a boost from new model launches. Toyota's executives told reporters at this year Frankfurt Motor Show that that won't happen until 2009.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be pleased that China's Shuanghuan Automobile, which makes cars that look remarkably similar to some German ones, decided to heed her warning and steer clear of the show.

One of their cars made it the show, nonetheless, as the company who imports the car was unable to resist showing Shuanghuan's CEO, a car that looks remarkably similar to the BMW X5.

On hybrid technology, I still remain skeptical about Porsche's plans for the ecological high end. Will it ever deliver to the company's bottom line? Then again, I was proven wrong with similar skepticism I had when Porsche first lunched the Boxster.

Hybrid and fuel-saving technologies are not just here for show, they are already a centerpiece of manufacturers' new product lineups. Toyota may once have had an enviable lead here, but just in time for the Frankfurt Motor Show the Germans have proven that they are ready to be first in class again.