Tuesday 12 November 2019

Geneva Motor show how you can feel the return of the feel-good factor

Eddie Cunningham and Bob Flavin

Geneva is abuzz with the sound of big, powerful engines and outrageous shapes that go hand-in-hand with a renewed optimism.

Amid deep concerns over stagnant European economies, the carmakers are setting such worries aside for now and are outdoing each other to produce the most exotic cars.

Yes, of course, mainstream remains the focus. There are more efficient petrol and diesel engines; more plug-ins and electric cars, and boasts of weight-loss that would put a global Operation Transformation in the shade.

But there was a distinct feeling of ‘Hey, let’s have some fun’ too.

Those of us lucky enough to be here to see and hear the likes of Lamborghini Aventador Super Veloce, the Porsche Cayman GT4, Bentley’s ravishing green GT Speed and Audi’s new R8, to name but a handful, sensed the mood change, the up-shift.

It’s okay again to show off power, pace and performance. It’s also important to put them in context. It was apposite, we felt, that in the middle of the outrageous, the everyday was allowed its moment in the spotlight – the pragmatic, workhorse Volkswagen Caddy no less. And we were reminded, as is now the norm, by Volkswagen’s chief, Prof Martin Winterkorn, how we, the consumers are changing by the day.

We want more connectivity, more digitisation and more individualism in our cars. They are spending billions on research and development to keep pace with tomorrow’s motoring world.

The impact of digitisation is driving change at a phenomenal level and rate. It is, he said, redefining the role of the automobile. Meeting those challenges is going to cost a lot of money in research and developments and, in turn, carmakers have to become more profitable to sustain such a level of advance.

The Volkswagen group made an operating profit of €12.7bn last year. Buoyed by the announcement that their Passat had won European Car of the Year, there was a celebratory feel to proceedings.And a touch of nostalgia.

It was goodbye to the last Bugatti Veyron. The La Finale was the end of the line for the model after 10 years. La Finale was Number 450 – and they are all sold.

As it left our view, we were promised an even better, faster, more powerful supercar. As ever with the car business, there are always new roads to be driven.

 

It’s called confidence and optimism and both are here in abundance at Geneva.

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