The Buzz at the Geneva Motor Show

Highly charged – press days at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show were utterly electrifying

This year’s Geneva Motor Show was widely anticipated as a highly electrifying affair – in a very literal sense. Most manufacturers came to Switzerland armed with some kind of electric offering, ranging from e-scooters and diminutive city cars, to extravagant hyper car concepts boasting outlandish (and unverified) performance figures. It was a veritable buffet of electrification, a fondue of the future.

Volkswagen Group takes the lead

Still reverberating from the shock waves of the diesel emissions scandal, the Volkswagen brand has taken the strategic decision to make a decisive stand on electric mobility and is backing it with huge amounts of investment. The company has stated it has budgeted “over 34 billion euros to the end of 2022 for e-mobility, autonomous driving, digital connectivity and new mobility services“. A further 15 billion euros have been earmarked for its JVs in China.

Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess with his board colleagues and the ID. Buggy following the VW press conference.

In Geneva, Volkswagen unveiled its quirky little ID. Buggy concept car, based on the iconic dune buggy of the 60s, to provide a taster of the flexibility offered by its modular electric platform (MEB), which it is making available to other manufacturers. On the eve of the show, it announced EV start-up e.Go Mobile as its first external partner.

Meanwhile, Audi unveiled no fewer than seven electrified vehicles – three all-electric and four plug-in hybrids. The e-tron Sportback, to be launched later this year, the e-tron GT concept (first shown last year in LA and slated for launch in 2020) and the Q4 e-tron concept, the production version of which is also due next year.

The plug-in hybrids, under new badge TFSIe, are the A8, A6, A7 Sportback and Q5. The Q2 L e-tron for the Chinese market will be unveiled in Shanghai in a few weeks time.

More electric offerings

As is typical of motor shows, many of the electric concepts on show were of a more fanciful, futuristic nature, with varying degrees of likelihood of ever making it into production. Nevertheless, there was plenty to look at that is already firmly slated for the market.

The Polestar 2 is based on Volvo technology and will be built in China by parent company Geely.

Looking very icy and Scandinavian, the all-electric Polestar 2 was displayed at the show tucked away inside its very own “cool” box. Created by Volvo’s Chinese parent company, Geely, it is aimed squarely at the Tesla 3. Pre-orders are already being taken, with production scheduled to begin in China next year.

Honda’s close-to-production city EV attracted a lot of attention

Honda’s close-to-production e-Prototype (not its final name) is due to go on sale towards the end of this year. In case you’re wondering, the big black panel on the bonnet is neither an air scoop nor a power bulge, but the electric charging point.

Mercedes-Benz Vans debuted its Concept EQV, the all-electric version of its V-Class MPV has a range of up to 400 km and covers up to 100 km on a 15-minute rapid charge. The production version will be unveiled this autumn at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Following its world premiere at the CES in Las Vegas, the Rinspeed MicroSNAP concept celebrated its European premiere in Geneva. Pictured here with company founder Frank Rinderknecht, the MicroSNAP concept is an electrically powered “skateboard” that can accommodated a variety of pods for flexible transport of people or goods.

smart EQ fortwo cabrio and coupe

The brand that was smart long before “smart” was even a thing is in the process of going 100-percent electric. Now part of the Mercedes-Benz EQ electric brand, smart has years of experience in e-mobility (smart ed) and car sharing (car2go). The time could now be ripe for the original city car. It is also rolling out a suite of digital services under its “ready to” brand, including a peer-to-peer car-sharing service that enables individuals to earn money through sharing their smart within a closed circle of friends. I sat down in Geneva with head of smart Katrin Adt and its head of sales & Marketing Daniel Lescow. More on that to follow.

However, Geneva wouldn’t be Geneva without the automotive exotica. In a country traditionally packed with high-net-worth individuals, this show is where the boutique manufacturers love to show off their latest trinkets. This year, several of them got with the programme and came along with electric offerings, while others stuck proudly and unashamedly to their high-octane origins.

The Piëch Mark Zero attracted a lot of attention with its sleek design, extravagant claims and mighty heritage

Among the supercars on show, probably the most talked about was the Mark Zero EV concept by newcomers Piëch Automotive. Co-founder Anton “Toni” Piëch is the son of former Volkswagen boss and automotive godfather Ferdinand Piëch. Providing no details on how, Piech claims its technology enables an electric range of 500 km and that a new type of battery cell facilitates rapid charging to 80-percent capacity in less than five minutes. Its plans are to build three models on the platform: a two-seater sports car, a four-seater and an SUV. It aims to launch the first of those within the next three years.

Apparently thumbing its nose at the “other” family business, Piëch Automotive headlined its supercar platform “REAL modularity”.

I don’t think the GFG Style Kangaroo would necessarily be my go-to for a skiing trip

The acronym SUV doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you look at the GFG Style Kangaroo, but this EV concept presented by legendary designer Giorgetto Giugiaro and his son Fabrizio is billed as a hyper SUV. All-wheel drive, all-wheel steer and an alleged output of 360 kW.

Highly charged super cars

To finish off – a selection of the other automotive eye candy adorning the Geneva show stands.

All images and video footage provided by the author with supplementary footage by Bronwen Cowley.

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