GIMS 2019 or the Geneva Motor Show to you and I kicked off with the press day today, and there was a distinct split in what people were deciding to show. “Small” and “Electric” was in one corner, and “Ostentatious” and “Extravagant” was in the other.
Size Doesn’t Matter
As recently discussed on It’s Not That Simple, small cars have been seen in some manufacturers’ eyes as a poor return on investment as the world apparently turns to SUVs. Renault and Peugeot lead the Gallic revolt against this sentiment with announcements of the new Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. Both have sported new infotainment systems dominated with large screens and all the creature comforts you would expect in a much larger car. Given the financial health of PSA and the RNM Alliance, I would wager that these are at least marginally profitable which seems to be a challenge for others.
Electrifying Concepts and Reality
Honda officially unveiled its e-Prototype, destined for production in the very near future and making its way to Europe. It has been refreshing to see only minor modifications from its original concept first shown at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
The full width screens remain (albeit split into a few smaller screens), the side view cameras remain in place of mirrors, and you would be hard-pressed to highlight any design differences between the concept and the final product.
With the announcement of the FIAT Concept Centoventi, FCA has thrown their hat into the ring for future urban mobility. An evolution of their retro-modern styling to a futuro-retro-modern (coming to a #hashtag near you), they have made a compelling entry to this emerging segment. I hope that the production model (Panda) is as similar to the concept as Honda’s.
Appeal vs. Desire
On the other end of the spectrum, the likes of Bugatti, Pininfarina, Aston Martin and Koenigsegg all took the opportunity to present ever more ridiculously priced and extreme vehicles to the world.
Pininfarina’s Battista, boasting 1,900 bhp, was officially unveiled.
Aston Martin showed that, with the help of Adrian Newey, they can build not one, but two different unattainable but excrutiatingly fast (not official, but I wouldn’t bet against it) vehicles in the form of the Valkyrie’s baby brother, the 003.
Koenigsegg one-upped themselves with the Jesko, trumping the Agera R as the most extreme but also most capable Koeniggsegg in their stable. We will have to wait and see what it can do on the track with my favourite part, the “LST” or “Light Speed Transmission”. With Christian’s father’s name on the car, I would wager this one will be hard to beat.
Not to be out-done, Bugatti, the father of the modern hypercar era, made the exceedingly expensive Chiron even more extreme and more expensive with the one-off (and sold-out) “Voiture Noire”. Dull name, and honestly not a pretty car.
Motor shows are a marketing exercise for companies, but how much does this add? Do people really yearn for a Bugatti when they see this? If there is only one, they can’t be building interest.
Some of this year’s more extreme entrants seem to be corporate peacocking, showing off to industry rivals rather than appealing to the public.
On the Undercard
Some manufacturers made a more low-key appearance:
VW showed their new Passat in several different guises, echoing the design language started in the latest Touareg. The ID Buggy made an appearance, as did the T-Roc R. A relatively sedate showing from VW.
Mercedes brought “electrification and AI” to Geneva, both hard things to demonstrate in static displays at the opening press conferences.
Mazda played it very straight, showing their new CX-30 SUV.
SEAT arrived to show off their questionably-named “El-Born” EV, which looked more than slightly similar to a Tesla.
Much of the rest had been shown before Geneva, or was not particularly notable.
A very mixed show, with some notable appearances and a wide array of offerings from across the industry. With the relative ease of engineering EVs, I would expect to see more of the likes of Pininfarina, Piech Automotive and others at future shows. However, it is nice to see core refreshes from some of the mainstream players.
What’s your take? Any favourites or particularly offensive cars at GIMS 2019? Have your say in the comments below.