Observer: High Concepts drive the Geneva Motor Show

Jan. 1, 2020
One vehicle navigates the underwater terrain like an octopus; the other opens its doors like a giant insect. Yet another car boasts 90 miles on a single electric charge.
ONE VEHICLE NAVIGATES the underwater terrain like an octopus; the other opens its doors like a giant insect. Yet another car boasts 90 miles on a single electric charge.

This year's Geneva International Motor Show had all the makings of a sci-fi movie or something that would exist only in the realm of James Bond, as vehicles from the practical to the outlandish were on display.

The 78th international Swiss show featured more than 50 new product previews, covering just about every segment of the auto industry, from Indian manufacturer Tata's $2,500 car to a $2.3 million Bugatti Veyron Fbr, developed in a joint venture with luxury goods maker Hermes.

The Ford Fiesta was presented in four-door form, and Infiniti displayed its FX50 SUV/crossover, which is expected to reach U.S. show floors in June. Volvo offered up its XC 60 midsize crossover, which it claims is the safest vehicle the automaker has ever built.

But the vehicle that drew the most attention likely was the Rinspeed SQuba, a Lotus Exige modified into an actual working submarine.

For those interested in the environmentally friendly category, Lumeneo's Smera is a single-seat narrow electric car, tailored for those drivers who can't decide between a motorcycle and an automobile. This scooter-type vehicle can go up to 80 mph and reputedly travels more than 90 miles on a charge.

The Renault Mégane Coupe Concept, featuring "dragonfly wing" doors, also made an appearance. This car uses a mobile phone to unlock the doors and start the ignition. Toyota's iQ urban car, which it describes as a Smart car with a third seat, was targeted toward European drivers, and Britain's WhatCar features The Vauxhall Tigra Illusion, a hard-top convertible with a soft-top look. Fisker Automotive rolled out a four-door plug-in hybrid.

And Mercedes-Benz featured the all-new SL, which includes the SL63 AMG sports car.

Many vehicles on display represent the omnipresent "greening" of new vehicles, like Bentley's announcement that it will slash CO2 emissions and introduce a new powertrain that could boost mileage on some models by up to 40 percent by 2012.

"The green nail that I was hammering on at the last two Motor Shows has now been driven completely home," says Me Luc Argand, president of show.

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