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Indego / IndeGo Forum / Geneva Show - a product watershed?

Geneva Show - a product watershed?


Friday, 29 February 2008 14:00

Looking forward to my annual visit to Geneva next week for the opening of the Geneva Show.  This is generally viewed as one of the "must do" motor shows in the annual calendar, largely down to the compact size and level playing field for all exhibitors.  I think we will see evidence of a watershed in respect of product this year.

On the Ford stand, we will have the new Fiesta, based on the Verve concept previously shown, and planned for global release under the new regime headed by Alan Mulalley.  By all accounts, this is going to be a great car, with many positive qualities that should ensure commercial success.  However, it is a "traditional" car in the sense that it follows the same basic architectural concept of front transverse internal combustion engine, front wheel drive, and steel monocoque body that became estbalished as the norm after the launch of the original Mini almost 50 years ago. 

On the Tata stand we will see the Nano in Europe for the first time, and on the Volkswagen stand we will see examples of the Up concept.  Whilst aimed at different markets, both these products represent a "clean sheet of paper" approach to product.  Both have settled on smaller engines (2 cylinders in the Nano and the smaller Up vehicles), mounted at the rear, and driving the rear wheels.  Both use modular assembly and combination of parts to reduce the parts count and therefore assembly costs.  Careful design and a focus on what customers really need, results in significantly reduced weight.  Kerb weight of under 1000kg used to be normal for small and medium cars - added features to meet perceived demand and regulatory requirements has made that very rare now.  These cars show that it is still achievable with all the benefits that brings in terms of energy usage and emissions.

I therefore think that we are seeing the start of a transition period in vehicle architecture for volume cars in the A to C segments.  This will take several years to work through fully due to the length of model cycles.  However this new Fiesta may be the last of it's type, and we can expect to see more and more Nano and Up type products in the years to come.

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