European Automakers Hope Technology Can Lure Younger Buyers

FRANKFURT — Sometimes it is more fun to dream about the future than to dwell on the present, especially if you are a European car executive.

With sales at their lowest level in two decades, auto industry managers gathering for the Frankfurt auto show next week will be doing their best to focus on shiny new technologies rather than on the European car market, which, in contrast to the thriving market in the United States, is in a terrible state.

The buzz at the show, which opens to the public next Saturday, is likely to be about new battery-powered cars and vehicles that are able to drive themselves. Those are more cheerful topics than auto sales, which have fallen 20 percent in Western Europe since the financial crisis began in 2008 and are at their lowest level since 1993.

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