The 88th Geneva International Motor Show, also known as “Salon International de l’Auto et Accessoires,” has closed its doors. It is the show of the premieres. Through the years, many cars are shown for the first time to the public at this show. Probably because Switzerland does not have its own car industry, it is neutral ground between the shows of Frankfurt and Paris.
I don’t like cars, crowds of people, and especially the combination of the two — car shows. The opulence of these cars is wasted on me. But I am fascinated by electric cars and the transition to zero-emission driving.
Geneva is the show of the luxury supercars. Many cars that are exhibited are more expensive than a Rolls Royce. While the show is smaller than IAA in Frankfurt and less focused on cars normal people can buy and drive, the electric driving news was larger this year. If this trend holds on, the Paris motor show this fall will be exciting.
This larger number of electric cars than at IAA in Frankfurt shows, in part, what half a year can do to the minds of car executives, who are starting to realize that their world is really changing. Despite the progress made in their minds, when push comes to shove, the internal combustion engine still takes center stage.
Mercedes, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.
The Mercedes bet for the future is its fully electric EQ sub-brand. The EQC concept car shown in Frankfurt should be close to a prototype now and I hoped to see it at the stand in Geneva. After looking in vain at the stand for the car, a Mercedes guide pointed us to the back wall of the stand where the special EQ exhibition was displayed — yes, behind the rest of the Mercedes exhibition.
Behind the wall, a line of journalist was waiting down the stairs to be admitted to a mezzanine. As more cars were only shown to a few selected journalists at a time, we decided to wait our turn patiently. How disappointed we were when finally reaching the hallowed mezzanine grounds there was no car. It was a luxury restaurant where Mercedes treated journalists to a very sophisticated lunch. We decided not to dig in — we had lost our appetite completely.
We journalists paid for the free lunch by not having the most important Mercedes car on exhibition.
Renault did have an impressive zero-emission display the first press day, but the second press day, when the important people joined the press, the display was replaced with the more important new gasoline engine.
Contrary to most other carmakers, Renault does have a number of electric vehicles for sale, including a very popular one. Announcing far better concepts available in one or two years could kill current sales (known as the Osborne effect).
Instead, Renault shows far-out concepts. In Frankfurt, it was Renault Symbioz that could be part of your living room, and in Geneva we got some kind of self-driving next generation of Uber/minibus/taxi. The EZ-Go seemed straight from the time of The Jetsons.
Volkswagen was nearly as impressive as Renault, with its ID concept car podium overlooking the VW stand. But, again, it was closed to journalists the second press day. Only for important guests of the company. The story VW was telling was compelling. A complete new generation of cars as successors of the Golf, Passat, and Polo line from the 1970s, but using style elements from the Beetle and Golf generations make for a truly next-generation VW.
Audi did have a nice ’60s movie theater with a popcorn stand and hostesses distributing candy bars and soda. After watching 15 minutes of A6 promotional videos, we got 60 seconds to do what we had all been waiting for. We hurried to the unwrapping of the new electric Audi, and got a quick look at the new e-tron, still in camouflage paint, before it was covered up again.
Nissan was present with its new LEAF, and the nearly as important e-NV200 Evalia was used as a billboard, hardly recognizable as a car. After all the hype about the next-gen LEAF and my intention to take a test drive, I decided to skip it. The e-NV200 Evalia is worth more attention, but this billboard is not it. I’ll save this one also for a later date.
BMW did have interesting news for the press around the time of the show, but that news was not on their stand at the show. No news from this front.
More Positive Exhibitors
Smart did have a stand of the future. It displayed many versions of its three electric models, beside some legacy ICE versions for their diehard customers. The new thing about the Smart Electric Drive is the incorporation into the Mercedes EQ sub-brand. If this means that these cars will be available through all the Mercedes dealers who will offer the EQ line of cars, this is a huge change.
Jaguar did have three I-PACE models on the floor, recognizable for the crowds around them. An article with lots of photos is coming.
There were a lot of other Jaguars too, but I didn’t notice them. Nor did most other visitors of the stand. But perhaps the paying visitors, getting to look at all the goodies we journalists are too blasé to notice, will appreciate them.
Polestar was for me the revelation of Geneva — pure beauty with a, for a PHEV, impressive 34.5kWh battery. View the photo shoot we published from the show floor.
It is also a testament to how fast electrification is progressing. When they started designing this near-supercar, such a large battery was probably very progressive and daring. Now it is almost outdated to launch such a car as a PHEV.
Porsche did attract a large crowd of photographers for its sporty Mission E CUV. And CleanTechnica photographer Jos Olijve was one of them.
Hyundai had the Kona, Nexo, and Ioniq to show. I will tell your about the Kona in two more articles.
Tata makes cars too. It develops a luxury electric sedan suitable for Maharajas and simple electric vehicles for India’s masses. They are reportedly coming to Europe in the near future.
Honda did show electric concept cars like it did in Frankfurt. At least Honda is thinking about it.
The rest of the legacy carmakers — like Opel, Peugeot, Citroen, Toyota, Mazda, Fiat, Ford, and others — had nothing to show yet. But I expect that most of them will have something for us at the Paris Motor Show this fall.
As usual from Geneva, all the pictures are from Jos C. Olijve.
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