This year’s Geneva Motor Show was one of optimism. In many press conferences you could hear CEOs and presidents exclaim that sales had risen for consecutive months or that their expectation for 2014 is that consumers will buy new vehicles. The confidence is starting to return and order intake exceeds expectations. However, the careful reader should not forget where the European region is coming from. We are climbing from a two-decade low and with sales drops of -40% in Southern European countries such as Spain. There is a promise of recovery, but it could easily be damped by the Russia – Ukrain territorial dispute about the Krim Island. Despite the verbal optimism and the numerous new introductions one trend was imminent immediately: all manufacturers are holding their horses when it comes to alternative fuel cars. Toyota placed its FCEV fuel cell concept car in a corner of their booth and gave full room to its new Aygo micro car with a conventional fossil fuel engine. Toyota was definitely no exception. Renault is still pushing hard their ZOE, Kangoo and Twizy EVs and is a driving force behind the new electric Formula E race series. However, their biggest news was the all new Twingo with aspiring designs, a neat interior and rear wheel drive but … with conventional engines.
BMW launched its 2 series Active Tourer. The concept car was presented at previous motor shows with a plug hybrid engine. However the final production car at display was tagged 218d, which implies a conventional diesel engine.
Other remarkable newcomers were the Mercedes S-Class coupe, the Citroen C4 Cactus with plastic Air Bump panels on the side which prevent scratches and ditches on the car body. The VW T-ROC. The Ferrari California with twin turbo engine. The Infinity Eau Rouge, a conventional looking sedan, but with 3.8 liter high power engine which originates from the Nissan GTR sports coupe. An array of brutal sports cars such as the Lamborghini Huracan, the McLaren 650S and from numerous small niche manufacturers or tuners such as Gumpert, RUF, Ermini and Nimrod. EV news comes in the side lines from Volkswagen, which shows its Golf in a sporty GTE edition. It visually has the looks of a Golf GTI, but is equipped with the 1.4 TFSI plug-in hybrid engine. The engine, or better engines, are a turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine of 148 hp and an electric motor that has an 101 hp. With the GTI VW invented the hot hatch in the 70s. Later on they replicated the trick with the GTD, a sporty diesel hatchback. Time will tell if the GTE can follow the in footsteps of those two and make VW the inventor of the hot electric plug-in hybrid.
Despite all the other beautiful concepts, was there really no new big development ? If I was to pick one trend then it has to be that the automotive industry and developing car technology become more and more synonymous with information technology. For example, Apple Car play was one of the buzz words in the show. It is a smart interface through which you can use your iPhone in the car and put apps on a big in car screen. Amongst the brands that will offer CarPlay in 2014 are Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz. The new Chinese brand Qoros states that one of the unique selling points of their cars is its cloud based media system. Technology as a core competence of a price fighter. And then the Geneve Motor Show event was loaded with concepts of autonomous vehicles by Nissan, Rinspeed and AKKA technologies to mention a few.
However the definitive banger of the show was by a company called EDAG which brought together digital technology and 3D printing into the car industry. They showed a concept of a 3D printed car body. That is something that makes your imagination run wild. A car completely tailored to your individual taste in design. Yes! Please print me a car with the front of a Lamborghini, the passenger compartment of the VW Golf, the back end of the McLaren 650s and with those convenient Air Bump protection panels of the Citroen C4 Cactus.