FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Facing another year of dismal sales in Europe, automakers are making their case to consumers this week at the Frankfurt Auto Show, hoping greener cars and new technology will create excitement and convince buyers it's time for a new model.
Mercedes-Benz seemed to be particularly gunning for young people, placing the spotlight on its compact B-class electric drive and its car-sharing service using the Smart subcompact aimed at introducing its products to carless urbanites.
It also showed off a road test in which a driverless car drove itself for 60 miles (100 kilometers) on real streets, hugging roundabouts, stopping for cyclists and putting its turn signal on.
Volkswagen is displaying four electric or hybrid cars, including an electric version of its small Up! city car and mainstay Golf compact.
With hybrids and electrics only 0.2 percent of the market, analysts say that the prospects for sales and profits on such vehicles remain uncertain. They can help companies meet government requirements for lower average emissions — and position them to be ready if such vehicles take off.
A U.S. sales recovery has improved the mood — but industry officials say Europe has only stabilized at low levels and a rebound is far off. Christian Klinger, marketing and sales chief for Volkswagen, said that in Europe "we believe things could be stabilizing in the next few months," but he cautioned that sales were "stabilizing at a low level."
German carmakers are relying on more stable earnings from their luxury lineups. The battle is fierce for lower-priced producers such as General Motors' Opel and France's PSA Peugeot Citroen.