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A cautious industry - but convincing products
The most important news first: consumers’ willingness to buy is unbroken – despite the many homemade bad news. "You've got choices", Dr. Dieter Zetsche announced victoriously. Not without reason as manufacturers continuously close even unknown gaps in their vehicle portfolios. And for 2018, there is indeed a range of convincing, new vehicles on display. However, the question of ground-breaking strategies for the future remains unanswered. When will the key players address upcoming challenges – with new business models, autonomous vehicles close to series production and clever mobility services? "Move the metal", is still the guiding principle of the industry. On the other hand – who should blame OEMs for as long as customers are willing to pay?
2018’s Geneva International Motor Show had some highlights to offer. Jaguar was right at the spotlight – with its new electric SUV I-Pace, the Britons take the lead in Europe. Providing a range of 480 km, the futuristic vehicle stands out. The base version is priced at € 80,000, the prestigious „first edition“ at about € 100,000. Rumours circulate that production is already sold out for a long time. Same is valid for the Hyundai Kona EV which provides the same range, however using a considerably smaller battery. This hence less expensive model aims directly at the mass market – the limping Tesla 3 should consider itself warned. Moreover, there are and have been for quite some time already the Renault Zoe, the e-Golf or the refreshed Nissan Leaf – the latter two with a range of merely 200 km.
Keyword diesel: several brands have turned their backs on it – for example, Toyota and Porsche offer no more diesels, FCA and Volvo are expected to follow; the new Skoda Fabia will only be offered with petrol engines. Still, this might not be exceptionally hard for these very OEMs, but what about the premium OEMs which have a diesel share of up to 80% in their portfolios? It is a fact that they will have to develop strategies to fulfil the CO2 targets until 2021. For this reason, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have presented new diesel engines with equal or lower emissions in comparison to similar petrol models – and of course lower fuel consumption which helps bringing down fleet emissions. With modern exhaust gas after treatment, these diesel engines remain clearly within the respective NOx limits, also in independent tests.
Looking at the subject of hydrogen, Hyundai sets an exclamation mark. With its SUV Nexo, the South Koreans show the dilatory competitors, what a modern fuel cell vehicle looks like. The space in the raised vehicle floor is used to accommodate the new propulsion technology. What is needed now is a close network of service stations and an acceptable selling price.
The offering of plug-in hybrid models is growing continuously. Toyota presented the Auris, Honda the new CR-V, Volvo the new V60 and the exclusive Polestar 1. Bentley hybridises the Bentayga. The highly sensitive questions are: why do the serial introductions take so long? And will the – in some cases – second versions of hybrids be economical in real world driving scenarios?
Once more, Honda showed off the best concept cars. If it is right, that it was only the offering of convincing EVs which was missing to move customers to abandon oil, then here are the answers. If the Japanese succeed in fusing attractive design with superb battery power, the way is clear. The Honda Urban EV should enter the German market till the end of 2019 – at about the same time as the electric Skoda Citigo which, however, fascinates less.
And, yes, also the German car manufacturers brought their highlights and news to Geneva. With the I.D. Vizzion, VW showed an electric, autonomous flagship with 650 km of range which does completely without a steering wheel. We can expect this science fiction precursor at the earliest in 2022. A little earlier – at the end of 2019 – the Porsche Mission E could enter the market. His outdoorsy brother, the Mission E Cross Turismo, presented itself as a bit clumsy to the Swiss crowd. The German counterpart to Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X is the Audi E-Tron Quattro. The model was conspicuously disguised in Geneva and is expected to enter series production this year.
Moreover, the new Audi A6, the BMW X4, the new Mercedes A class or also Peugeot 508 were shown; very impressive new products, partly mild-hybridised, with a lot of potential in the buyer's market – however, answers to the important questions of the next years are missing: what are new revenue opportunities and how does ecologically friendly mobility work? Maybe the industry uses the tailwind which originates from the excellent sales figures to tackle the future.