Considered to be an important international auto show, the annual Geneva Motor Show is essentially reflective to the European automobile market and has always relished the fair share of decadence and luxury. The 2013 83rd edition of the show was nothing short to its usual fanfare but it was more a luxury and supercar showdown, in sharp contrast to the struggling mass-market makers in recent times.
The Geneva this time was balmy, secretly concealing frosty economic climate.
The Geneva craze this year reflects the incongruity that many markets are facing globally. Many are trying hard in the present global economic slowdowns, with mass-market manufacturers trying hard to keep-up their numbers. Persistent economic storm has plummeted the car sales in the European market with a 8.2% dip last year, to their lowest level in past 17 years. Weak figures for January showed how sales continued to fall into 2013 with Spain, France and Italy getting more tougher. Many car makers are closing down their factories across Europe, cutting thousands of jobs, thanks to increased imports from Asia especially from India and China. Worst part, many are also curbing staff even their executives’ pay,
reportedly including that of some high profile, successful industry
chiefs such as Volkswagen Group’s Martin Winterkorn and Daimler’s Dieter
This picture of reality juxtaposes with the proliferation of amazing new super cars and high-end luxury models on display, with healthy sales. Not only Europe, this trend is well noted in the developing markets like India and China too. Thus, ‘recession’ was a bad word at Geneva this time. No one at the show spoke about it nor admit it. All they told was – “Let’s talk cars!!”.
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This doesn’t mean that mass-market car makers lacked gleam at the show. Companies such as Ford, GM, Fiat, Renault, PSA donned brave face at the show and tried best to attract people. Many roved into newly explored niche segments such as SUV mimics and B-SUVs from the existing platforms. Doing so makes them economically viable by recouping necessary volumes. But it is true that they missed key new products that might turn fortunes.
Another notable transition is the sudden rejuvenation of the station wagons, a smiling fact for estate lovers like me. They prefer Wagons for SUV designs to woo the freshers. Their utility and cost effectiveness is well recognised, which would help them to convince customers. Skoda Octavia Combi, VW Golf wagon, Toyota Auris, Hinda Civic Tourer are few examples. I don’t think this makes sense to our home market unfortunately. Car makers are also showing more interests on hybrid powertrain technologies and research. It is unlikely for the pure electric motors to rule the road in near future. R & D of such cars takes a back seat as of now. It is mainly due to slow customer response and poor infrastructural support.
It seems that the car makers could not digest the sluggishness in recent days and are making number of operations to revive back the market share. The future of European market is so bleak and there is less optimism for a sudden change. Geneva show tried hard to conceal the hard fact, but it was less successful.