This was an earthquake show. The biggest step change in character as well as nature for more than a decade….. thanks to the advent of WiFi connected social media access, so people could take pictures or make videos and uploaded them directly in the very same moment for world-wide consumption. That’s progress.
Except. Take one example. Citroën is in the white heat of the merger of Peugeot SA with GM Europe, having already donated projects under the previous ‘alliance’ agreement. The press conference had M. Tavares (glorious CEO of Peugeot SA) standing in front of a full size beautifully crafted plastic model. Yes, stuffed up against a video camera platform and surrounded by chairs was the most significant vehicle of their entire stand. The C4 Grand Picasso prototype which has already driven 120 000km autonomously. The point? Social mediates flew around the plastic model and missed the story.
Very few of the manufacturers released any information at the show, instead releasing on line. This more remote process leads to the ability to promote, place and generally ‘guide’ the whole information feed. So check this out….
l Nissan Qashqai – all new. Um, no. It’s a mild facelift as a place holder for the really all new Qashqai due in 2018. The undeclared reasons for doing this are more fascinating than the product revision.
l Toyota Yaris – all new. Errmmm. No. Really no. This is the same old Yaris with alterations that are soooo mild it almost could be classified as an upgrade rather than even a facelift. For Toyota this is shocking. Model changes run like Swiss railway system – they are never late, and this one is.
l Ford Fiesta. This really is all new, and yet the selected media who were invited to the ‘pre-launch’ back in November have published stuff worthy of Vogue. No detail, lots of froth. The Ford methods system does not carry information for this vehicle yet, which is starting production in March 2017.
Most pointless car? A straight race between a Mercedes-Maybach G 650 Landaulet and a ‘racing’ Aston Martin ‘not-so’ Rapide.
The stars? Ford Fiesta (for mass market significance), Seat Ibiza (first to bring MQB platform to the Volkswagen Polo / Seat Ibiza / Skoda Fabia / Audi A1 product group. Then there’s the Alpine A110. More than 10 years in the product planning process, almost derailed by an unfortunate alliance with Caterham… and then in 2014….. Dieppe went alone and developed this all aluminium mid-engine coupé. Bravo! And yes, it’s not only well made but beautiful too. It might also explain why Renault could only offer a Zoe (electric vehicle) which had been assaulted with matt blue paint with vomit green ‘happening’ highlights. Poor Zoe.
Most significant? Volvo XC60 introducing the fourth iteration of the SPA platform with self-steer added to the safety suite (which naturally will be read back to XC90, V90 and S90. Oddest? Step forward the Range Rover Velar, an on-road car with the interior space of a Volkswagen Golf but the exterior bulk of a small planet. On the same stand, walk across to the sisters (D-I-S-C-O No5, Range Rover Sport as well as Range Rover) where the discovery of a roomier, more capable vehicle range will be made. Good one JLR.
The Mercedes-AMG concept was everything the brand represents. Power. Power and more power. Celebrating 50 years of making Mercedes-Benz products much faster, the concept was joined by special editions which are available for purchase right now.
Two side shots. First was a small Ford logo next to the Aston Martin stand and within sight of both Volvo as well as Jaguar stands. It’s as if the Premier Automotive Group still exist. The second one was the big change in character, where the focus was on selling cars in Switzerland rather than showing off the best of the global automotive industry. Meanwhile the super elite luxury manufacturers who rely heavily on shows like Geneva do show incredible patience to talk, and talk, and talk to anyone who wants to ask questions. The human spirit is not quite dead, yet.