Geneva Motor Show – 10 years of visiting this event with an eye on electric mobility. Will we finally have the electric breakthrough? [Spoiler alert: Sadly, no] There are some signs, though. The image above is Rimac’s concept_one car, a 800kW, 1000+bhp all-electric supercar. Interestingly it is the #1 image hit when you search for Geneva’s 86th Motor Show. No breakthrough, but still a marked change. (#2 is Bugatti’s €1m+ Chiron)
My focus, as every year, is: What are mainstream brands doing with regards to electric mobility?
I haven’t written about the GVA Salon since 2012. This year, Twitter and other media I follow were quite active about CO2 reduction and electric mobility (with some weird results I’ve written about previously) and I thought that if there is some news, I’d write about it in my own style. 🙂
So, what was the Salon like? In short: Petrol heads rule supreme.
I’m not going to bore you with text and images for all the new announcements about ever-more powerful sedans. Most cars that young people were actively looking at had at least an EU F emission-tag. I’m just wondering: who is buying all these fuel-sippers that every brand needs to sell in Europe in order to get the fleet average down to the levels required by EU law? (another emission scandal waiting for us?)
There were some brands and their customers that were a sight to behold. Rolls Royce for example had a steady stream of very wealthy customers looking at cars with prices on request.
Let’s check out our first major brand: Mercedes-Benz.
None of the electric SLS madness from some years ago was to be seen – all I saw seemed to sound like ‘oookay, if we really have to, we’ll put something out there.
Mercedes’ botched electric B-class was on show – although none of the staff was able to say anything meaningful about the car, I’d like to add that even after three years of engineering by Mercedes Benz, the complete electric powertrain was purchased from Tesla (!). Then, seemingly on purpose, all relevant factors which would have made it a great car were degraded/changed/dropped…quick charging, just to mention one of them.
Plug-in hybrids are the hype now and therefore Mercedes Benz has added electric propulsion to some of their upper-market models and proudly shows the drive-train as if it were a dissected dead fish i.e. no real sexiness in presentation or other whistles. See for yourself.
The weirdest of them all was the GLE500e where the addition of the additional tech required for electric drive looks like an afterthought at the last minute.
The boot is a full 200 litres smaller than before and you will have to lift your groceries 25cm higher because the rather small battery has to be fitted somewhere, right? Just look at the position of the plug. I’m thinking heavy rain, snow etc. And yes, I’m aware that a Type2 plug has an IP54 rating. No CEE plug would ever be mounted like this by a professional and it, too, has a high IP44 rating.
Let’s move on, shall we?
On my way to our next candidate, I spy some very relevant tech – given the recent emissions cheating scandal 🙂
Onwards to VW. Their booth was as if nothing had happened. No remorse, no communication, nothing.
The bigger, the better – loud and hip was the message at their booth. An eUP was on display with a very optimistic 11.7kWh consumption.
My sights were on the widely promoted eBuddy: VW’s first attempt at long-distance electric motoring.
The much-hyped prototype was hidden away from the main booth and attracted little interest. Whilst it was difficult to get through to some of the other models on VW’s booth, here at the back, I and the eBuddy were almost alone. If there were visitors looking at the eBuddy, they were older people – probably reminiscing the days they were driving the original Buddy.
Renault’s booth, 4 years ago with electric mobility taking center stage, was decidedly less focussed on sustainability this year. The Twizzy was hidden away in a kind of tunnel, whilst a Zoe was on display without any special features to distinguish it from all the petrol cars around it.
No all-electric cars. Period. Their booth was (almost entirely) geared around eco-vehicles. Hybrids in all flavours and fuel-cell cars.
I’m still not convinced that fuel cell cars are the future. My last information is that a 250km “recharge” of hydrogen takes up to 10 minutes. That’s close to the throughput achieved by a supercharger…and again: Why would i need this anyway, since I charge my car at home and at work and get into a fully charged car every time I start it?
Hydrogen is highly flammable, must be stored at extreme pressures and is – effectively – just an energy carrier. Which brings us back to the usual question: Where does my energy come from? …And more importantly: Do I have a choice? It is proven to be much easier to generate your own electricity from some panels on your roof and avoid wars elsewhere 🙂
Toyota’s booth had at the far end a huge sail-like structure with a rather large part that went all the way to the ground.
What I found behind the sail was the Yang to the automotive Ying 🙂
Tesla: Model X and the only booth that had to put in airport-style waiting lines to accommodate all the people who wanted to see the Model X close-up. Since I’ve been to Tesla stores and have driven Tesla’s quite regularly lately, I didn’t bother queuing.
On to BMW:
Three distinct booths: M performance 30%, normal offerings 30%, BMWi 30%.
I maintain that BMW has done a tremendous job building a BEV from scratch as one should: i.e. high-tech lightweight materials / small but comfortable.
This year I was only interested in seeing their current developments in V2G and home integration.
The stuff they’ve come up with up until now is impressive. (and too far-reaching to be able to give an overview here). I’m looking forward to the next steps!
I had the opportunity to speak to a BMW representative for a good 10 minutes and get an overview of the technology. It was interesting to see the difference between BMW and Mercedes’ booth staff when asking relatively simple questions about electric mobility. BMW’s representative had indeed already driven the car! 🙂
On to Nissan:
The LEAF was on its own little platform – no bells and whistles. Most of Nissan’s booth was dedicated to their autonomous concept cars which were electric and were ferrying visitors around a small parcours. Very nice, but I didn’t want to wait for 40+ minutes to get the chance to try it for myself. 🙁
Weird additions came from Citroën and Morgan Motors:
Given some loose cash in my pocket I’d definitely buy one of these!
The rising star of electric supercars stardom has to be Rimac!
Croatian technology, super slick, fast, good-looking (…somewhat affordable).
Then, finally, we come to the rather small booth dedicated to sustainable mobility only: eMobile.
Here, Kyburz Switzerland unveiled their electric kit-car, the eRod. It still reminds me of the Wrightspeed X1 🙂
Something that really made me happy was the part of eMobile’s booth that was dedicated to charging infrastructure. Some of the vendors there really got what charging stations are about: Accessibility!
After all this sustainable technology, I usually finish my visit by looking out for lovingly restored British sports cars and eccentric concepts.
Let’s not forget one thing: TWIKE’s made it to the Geneva Motor Show, too: 16 years ago the TWIKEme concept (the model that would have come after mine) was unveiled there.
A future we’re still waiting for…