These are troubling times for the global car industry, with the expensive shift to electric cars menacing the internal combustion engine, and US tariffs and Brexit threatening to take a sledge hammer to carmakers’ profits.
None of that will seem apparent next week however, when carmakers line up to dazzle in Geneva. It is famous as the show where carmakers bring their best game, showing off futuristic concept cars, new models, and their most impressive tech. Industry insiders love Geneva, it’s the perfect showcase for them to display their wares to high-end customers and eye up the extremes of what the competition is doing.
Some 180 exhibitors will set up their stands in Geneva’s Palexpo convention center. One of the largest on the global circuit, the International Motor Show runs from 7 to 17 March.
Car shows are becoming less essential to brands. For one, they’re a huge investment — Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess, told Australia’s Motoring website last year that traditional motorshows were “dead” and “not delivering what we want.” Next year, Detroit will move its North American International Auto Show from freezing January to summer time in an effort to lure exhibitors and visitors.
Also, with tech like automation and connectivity an increasingly important component of the cars of the future, many manufacturers are instead ramping up their presence at big tech bashes like the CES in Las Vegas.
However, brands that gave Detroit a miss in January, like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes, are front-and-center at Geneva. Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo have pulled out of car shows, and will unveil new models at their own events. Volvo’s performance brand Polestar, which revealed its new electric Tesla competitor in Sweden yesterday, will show off the Polestar 2 in Switzerland next week.
READ MORE: Volvo’s Polestar unveils new electric car to rival Tesla
The big names of the luxury supercar stable, like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls, McLaren are all in Geneva next week, bumper-to-bumper with household brands, like Peugeot with its all-new electric 208. Here’s an overview of what to look out for.
One thing is clear, if you’re not putting an electric or hybrid car on your stand, you’re going to be the odd one out. From Honda’s cute-as-a-button e-car, to Audi’s new e-tron compact SUV, and Aston Martin’s Lagonda All-Terrain concept, car firms will be trumpeting their e-credentials. Profitable SUVs still rule of course, but this year the focus will be increasingly on plug-in hybrid and even fully-electric versions.
The Germans out in force
German car giants are taking Geneva by electrical storm. Audi will be showing off the newest addition to its sizeable SUV family, the electric Q4 e-tron SUV slated for production in 2021, as well as a bunch of plug-in hybrid versions of its sedans and SUVs.
Volkswagen, which is outspending its rivals by billions in its bid to be an e-mobility leader, will show off a funky electric beach-buggy, the ID Buggy, from its electric ID family. Covering all bases, VW will also debut a new turbocharged Volkswagen T-Roc R crossover.
Porsche, which announced this week that its bestselling Macan is going electric, is bringing its new 911 Carrera S and 4S Cabriolets, and a new, powerful 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
BMW’s latest 7 Series flagship sedan, with its huge new kidney grille and slinky design, will make its first car show appearance, luring the power-hungry with the 6.6 liter V12 760i and the eco-friendlier with the 745e plug-in hybrid.
Mercedes premieres include a new CLA Shooting Brake, its Concept EQV, which is says will be the world’s first premium electric van, a Formula E race car, and the first-ever diesel version of the G-Class.