Hybrid Cars, EV Concepts, Justin Timberlake Dominate Geneva Motor Show


Hybrid Porsche. Photo via Carmaker

If you were, say, a cave dweller, or this guy, and you were let loose in the Geneva Motor Show, you'd likely make some pretty interesting (and incorrect) inferences about the current state of the car world. You'd think that about one in four people drove a hybrid, that tiny electric cars are more popular than SUVs, that heavy trucks were all but thing of the past, and that Justin Timberlake hung out with German auto execs. Such was the scene at the first day of this year's show.I'm here at this year's Geneva Auto Show, or the Salon International de l'Auto, and I am exhausted. With three hours of sleep between the last two nights, it's been a semi-delirious--but entirely fascinating--slog thus far. The show is certainly unlike any American auto show, reflecting the European market with way more small cars and more nods to fuel economy than you'd ever see in Detroit.

I'll get more into the details of some of the highlights tomorrow, but I wanted to really a few impressions of the first day of the show.


Photo via NYTimes

First of all: hybrids. To me, hybrids seem to be the dominant theme of an auto show already dominated by small, fuel efficient cars. From the show's biggest surprise, the plug-in electric hybrid Porsche Spyder, to just-unveiled hybrids like the Volkswagen Toureg and new models from Peugot, Infiniti, Audi, and Ferrari. Of course, the latest hybrids from Toyota, Honda, Ford, and others were on display as well.

There were concept cars aplenty, and a slew of small fully electric cars--a tiny 2-seater from Honda, the Nissan Leaf (which goes on sale later this year!), EVs from Build Your Dream, the Warren Buffet-funded Chinese carmaker, and a slick new fully electric concept from Seat. Again, I'll have more details tomorrow.

Oh yeah, and evidently Audi and Justin Timberlake have partnered up for an ad campaign to launch the sporty A-1--he showed up to endure some awkward banter before being mobbed by an apparently-adoring German press.

All told, the first impression of the Geneva Motor Show paints a pretty encouraging picture for the future of the automobile--the trends in Europe are clearly continuing towards fuel efficiency, mobility, and hybrids. And the outlook for EVs here is sunny to say the least--it almost seemed like having at least an EV concept was a requisite for attending if you were a major automaker. SUVs were few and far between, and besides the gas-guzzling performance car mainstays like Rolls Royce and Lamborghini, it all had a very futuristic sensibility.

And in that future, thankfully, most cars will evidently be efficient, clean, and still, well, sexy-looking.

Note: To cover the company's unveiling of its first hybrid electric vehicle, the Toureg 2010, Vokswagen invited me along to check it out at the Geneva Auto Show. So, here I am. I'm not the resident car pro at TH (that, of course, is the multi-talented Michael Graham Richard), but I'll be covering the EVs, hybrids, concept cars, and other weird and efficient forms of transport revealed here over the next two days.
More on the Geneva Auto Show
Volkswagen Plans to Sell 300,000 Electric Cars a Year by 2018
First Ever Plug-in Hybrid Electric Porsche Uveiled: 918 Spyder

Tags: Alternative Energy | Electric Cars | Transportation

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