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Indego / IndeGo Forum / Geneva Show 2010

Geneva Show 2010


Wednesday, 03 March 2010 17:41


It's that time of the year again - time for the auto industry's favourite show.  Only two main halls, right next to the airport and no domestic dominant player mean that whilst other shows struggle and even cancel their events, Geneva marches on.  The exhibitor teams were a bit smaller, and the hospitality less lavish, but the industry top brass still turned out in force, and there was plenty to see...


The dominant colour this year was green - virtually every exhibitor had something to say and to show to demonstrate their environmental credentials.  Alternative fuels, new powertrains, technology add-ons were on almost every stand.  Even Ferrari abdandoned their usual colour pallet and had their 599 HY-KERS in a vivid shade of green that must have come out of the Lamborghini paint shop.  (Meanwhile the similarly green Lamborghini was actually a Superleggera version of their Gallardo where environmental credentials were not being emphasised!)

What was striking is how the alternative eco-friendly approaches are now so widespread that the hybrids are full-electric vehicles are just mixed in with the gasoline and diesel products on the stands - no fuss, no brighter lights or bigger banners.  The Chinese company BYD, 10% owned by Warren Buffett, showed some of their electric vehicles - they still have a bit to learn about trim quality, but the powertrain engineering and battery installation looked good.

BYD e6 at Geneva


It was surely just a coincidence that the BYD stand was right next door to Mercedes, who the day before the show opened, announced that they were forming a technology partnership for electric vehicles in China.  Unfortunately Tesla, in whom Mercedes acquired a 10% stake last May (since reduced), were as far away from the Mercedes stand as it is possible to be at Geneva, in the other hall.  Their stand looked a bit forlorn as well, with just a single roadster, a couple staff and no visitors.  Is this a case study in the perils of being a pioneer, and then being overtaken by the mainstream players after you have proven the feasibility?

Tesla Stand - Geneva 2010


The other US hopeful in alternative powertrains - Fisker - were also present at Geneva with their Karma.  This is a full hybrid which offers high performance and zero emissions in an attractive full size luxury car.  Solar panels on the roof help to preserve battery life, and make a stong green statement as well which can't be bad.  Build quality - at least of the prototype shown is more Ford Crown Victoria than Mercedes S-Class, but it's still a good effort, and away from the urban commuter type vehicle that most people have focussed on.  Whether then can keep their newly acquired ex-GM plant in Delaware busy is another matter.

Fisker Karma at Geneva 2010


Given their recent initiation by fire into how (not) to handle a product recall, Toyota might be having second thoughts about their stand design.  Prominently positioned by the main aisle was a display which related to the NCAP crash test performance of the iQ (a very creditable 5 stars), but included the NCAP slogan - "For Safer Cars".  Perhaps if your throttle sticks, you might be grateful for that 5 star rating?  On a more serious note, this is a great case example of how problems give you two opportunities with customers - one is to make the problem worse by handling it badly, and the other is sieze the opportunity to show how great you are.  Toyota needs to do better.

Toyota Irony


Reflecting the stated objective of Sergio Marchionne to build a closer collaboration between Chrysler and Lancia, their show stands were siamesed with a jigsaw theme to show how well they fitted together...  Whilst I am broadly a supporter of Marchionne looking for a 1+1+3 result from the Chrysler adventure, I think the contrast between the clunky Chryslers on the left and the svelte (though idiosynchratic) Lancias on the right suggest that the jigsaw pieces aren't going to fit together quite as neatly as the show stand designers hoped.

Chrysler Lancia Jigsaw


Finally, Geneva wouldn't be Geneva without the wierd and wacky.  There are more coachbuilders and niche producers at Geneva every year than there are at any of the other major shows.  Some of the cars are curious, some are spectacular, others are just bling.  And the blingiest of bling at Geneva had to go to the Mansory Rolla Royce Phantom.  As a picture says a thousand words, here's two thousand words for you...

Mansory Rolls Royce Bling


Mansory Rolls Royce Interior



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