Show of strength

It’s another big week for the automotive industry but this time the focus is on the cars rather than government subsidies, jobs or economic woes. The Frankfurt Motor Show, which begins tomorrow, is one of the sector’s major showcases for the fantastically imaginative on one hand and (it hopes) the next big things on the high street on the other.

The former category includes the BMW VED, a repository for every innovation in materials and hybrid energy technology the German car maker can muster, packaged together in a vehicle that looks like it belongs in the movies but not real life. Firmly in the latter camp are BMW’s own new Mini models, which to the joy of the UK will be built in Oxfordshire, a plug-in from Toyota and ­– also produced here in Britain – a new Astra. After so many months of discussing an industry apparently on its knees, here’s the proof that engineering innovation can still raise a cheer.

Across the Atlantic, NASA will this week take the wraps off some the latest technologies designed for its next series of space missions, as well as staging tests to determine what will be needed in the future. Even as hand-wringing continues over the cost of space exploration the development of technologies to push its boundaries carries on relentlessly.

Andrew Lee, editor