Geneva Motor Show Forecast: Sunny Skies and Higher Profits For Luxury Carmakers
The Geneva International Motor Show (Salon International de l’Auto), now in its 82nd year, is one of the most important auto shows in the world and this year’s event took place amidst a backdrop of energy and financial crises that are still playing out.
The show opened for press previews on Tuesday (it runs through the 18th) amidst sunny skies despite predictions of rain and gloom. The mood of the show reflected this ambiguity.
For starters, on Monday, the night before the official opening, the Opel Ampera (along with its twin, the Chevrolet Volt) was named the 2012 Car of the Year. Three days earlier, General Motors announced it will idle the Ampera/Volt assembly line due to lower than expected sales.
While some automakers were clearly wondering about whether the car-buying public would accept the clean, green cars they were building, others, particularly those in the luxury segment, were celebrating record sales and profits, and still others, including Citroën, Fiat, Ford, Opel, and Peugeot, were wondering if one or two in that group might find itself in a merger of necessity by the time the 83rd Geneva show rolls around.
With all of the hoopla, it was hard to see the forest through the trees, but here is a quick look at some of the highlights:
AUDI – As reported in our sister publication The Diesel Driver LINK, Audi unveiled the new A3. One model, the A3 1.6 TDI, reportedly will be capable of 62 mpg (3.8 l/100 km).
BENTLEY – The British luxury arm of Volkswagen showed off the EXP F9 concept, a rather imposing all-wheel-drive crossover vehicle.
BMW – BMW used Geneva to debut its new M6, the 6 Series Gran Coupe (which, despite its name, has four doors), and the line of M Performance Automobiles, which include some of the world’s most powerful diesels LINK.
CHEVROLET – Chevrolet unveiled a touring (station wagon) variant of the compact Cruze sedan, but only for European markets, which is where station wagons remain popular.
FIAT – If you think the Fiat 500 is cute but just a tad too small, you’re not alone. A four-door version, the 500 L, is almost as cute and should help sales in the U.S., which have been weaker than expected.
HYUNDAI – Hyundai’s I-Oniq concept car is said to be able to go 74 miles in a single charge, and can recharge itself via a gasoline engine-generator on the way.
INFINITI – Another plug-in, the Infiniti Emerg-E concept, is a good-looking midengine sport coupe with two electric motors developing 400 hp.
JAGUAR – Another wagon that won’t make it to the states is Jaguar’s Sportbrake, based on the XF sedan.
MERCEDES-BENZ – In addition to showing off a redesigned A Class, Mercedes was showing off one car that will make it to the U.S., the 27 mpg (8.7 l/100 km) E400 Hybrid, and one that won’t, the 56 mpg (4.2 l/100 km) E300 BlueTec Hybrid.
TOYOTA – Toyota put its FT-Bh concept car on display. With a look that’s both futuristic and retro at the same time, the FT-Bh will reportedly get 112 mpg (2.1 l/100 km).
VOLKSWAGEN – Volkswagen’s Cross Coupe concept (pictured), which we saw in Tokyo with a gas-electric hybrid engine, now is being shown in diesel-electric form. It wins Frequent Business Traveler’s best-of-show in fuel economy award, with a rating of 130 mpg (1.8 l/100 km).
Jonathan Spira contributed to this report.