The 2012 Geneva Motor Show

The 2012 Geneva Motor Show comes at a time of particular economic uncertainty in Europe – on the markets in general and in the automotive industry in particular.

“Europe is at a critical juncture,” said ACEA President and Fiat SpA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne in Brussels on 28 February 2012. “Markets around the world are justifiably nervous about the region’s ability to resolve mounting sovereign debt and spending deficits. This second crisis follows close on the heels of a global recession, whose effects have not yet been completely overcome. Europe must counter the economic headwind with a strong industrial policy to underpin Europe’s manufacturing base. The pillars of economic growth and of future prosperity must be strengthened to secure the future of Europe and its citizens.”

“Very few manufacturers make money in Europe”

“The fact is that, today, very few manufacturers make money in Europe,” said Marchionne.

This was echoed in the poor results in Europe reported by General Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen, with Europe holding GM back, and dependence on Europe dragging PSA down; as a result, this year’s Geneva Show will see more details emerge of the two OEMs’ recently-confirmed alliance. Unlike PSA’s alliance with BMW that was announced with a fanfare at the 2011 Geneva Show, this alliance has been created to rescue and strengthen both companies’ European operations. Ford, too, is expected to report poor performance in Europe in 2011, with a possible loss of US$600m in the region.

Thanks to strong performance in specific markets, such as China, other European OEMs have reported strong performance, notably the Volkswagen Group, which reported record profits for 2011; and VW Group subsidiary Audi reported a record year for the brand, including a record growth in deliveries and a record operating margin of 12.1%. And it’s not only the OEMs – Tier One supplier Continental, for example, reported revenue of €30.5bn (US$41bn) in 2011, and expects revenue in 2012 to reach €32bn.

The battle for the C-segment

The show will see a new phase in the battle for the European C-segment, as Kia rolls its next-generation cee’d, Hyundai debuts the i30 wagon, and Volvo unveils the V40. Volkswagen will be part of this surge too, at the performance end of the segment, with the new Golf GTI Cabriolet, where it will meet Opel with the Opel Astra GTC OPC and the Vauxhall-badged Astra VXR.

Sports cars remain a staple of any car show, and Porsche (all-new Boxster), Ferrari (F12berlinetta) and Maserati (GranTurismo Sport) will unveil new models at Geneva. Lotus will too, but in an unusual move by an automotive OEM, it will not reveal any information until the show (other than to say, cryptically, that it will blow the roof off).

Car of the Year 2012: Ampera/Volt

Some important concepts will also be unveiled at the show, notably the Infiniti Emerg-E and the perplexing Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept which applies Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet idea to the 2012 North American Truck of the Year winner. New to the Geneva Show this year is the announcement of the Car of the Year winner. An award previously presented in November, the Car of the Year award will from now on be presented on the eve of the first press day at the Geneva show. This year’s winner has been announced as the Opel (Vauxhall) Ampera/Chevrolet Volt. The seven finalists for the title were the Citroën DS 5, Fiat Panda, Ford Focus, Opel (Vauxhall) Ampera/Chevrolet Volt, Range Rover Evoque, Toyota Yaris and Volkswagen Up!.



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