The annual Geneva motor show opens on Thursday in the hopes of reviving a floundering industry. Some 250 exhibitors representing 700 brands from 30 countries will be showing their creations at the event, which starts on Thursday.
AFP - Car makers will emerge from the gloom of 2009 by presenting about 100 new models at the Geneva motor show over the coming week, hoping to counter uncertainty by wooing drivers with dreams, "downsizing" and discounts.
"The mood is much better than last year; in 2009 it was the end of the world," explained Frank Schwope, an analyst at German bank NordLB.
"Now there's hope of a recovery in the industry, not in Europe but in China and the United States," he told AFP.
Despite this, the European market risks a slump particularly in the second half of the year, when trade-in schemes which propped up the market in 2009, end or are cut back.
This year's show is taking place in the backdrop of the troubles engulfing the world's biggest auto maker Toyota, which was forced to recall some nine million cars world-wide.
In this uncertainty, car makers are churning out new models and concepts in a bid to entice buyers.
Some 250 exhibitors representing 700 brands from 30 countries will bring their latest creations to the Geneva show, organisers said.
Up to 700,000 people are expect to travel to the fair, when it opens from 4 to 14 March.
Bertrand Rakoto, analyst of RL Polk, said auto makers are aiming to send the message that despite the crisis, "we are still here, we are still alive and we will continue to build beautiful cars."
Beyond the green focus of previous years, the car makers are also likely to return to the "pleasure of an automobile," said Rakoto.
French auto maker Renault will be showcasing a small coupe-cabriolet Wing, derived from its Twingo.
Peugeot will present its prototype 5 with a hybrid diesel engine, to be marketed as the replacement of the 407. It is also expected to declare its ambitions in the high-end segment.
Citroen should be unveiling its concept DS High Rider, part of the DS chic line.
"There is no reason that pleasure cannot be at the centre of the car," said Carlos de Silva, analyst of IHS Global Insight.
But the analyst added that it would "once again be a show marked by the colour green and the ecologically responsible."
"We will stay in line with the traditional of the past two years" with "reflections on cars that are a little smaller, a little more compact, and very targeted on savings and on CO2," he said.
"Even on the stands of Porsche or Ferrari, they must demonstrate that they are coherent with the times," he added.
Indeed, the German sports brand will be showcasing a 911 GT3 with a hybrid petrol-electric engine, while the Italian will be presenting a prototype of its 599 in hybrid version.
A series of novelties will also come to Geneva, including the Audi A1, the Mini all terrain Countryman, the monospace Opel Meriva, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the 4x4 Dacia Duster of the Romanian subsidiary of Renault, the new Nissan Micra and the small Auris HSD hybrid by Toyota.
Some carmakers from emerging countries will travel to Geneva, such as China's Byd and India's Tata.
But for customers who are looking for a bargain, this year also bodes well.
"This will be very good for customers, they'll get really cheap prices," said Schwope.
"This year and next in Germany the market is at the bottom. The dealer will give you a discount of 10 to 20, sometimes more than 30 percent," he forecast.
Date created : 2010-03-02