Two Geneva motor shows for the price of one this year. The one where the carmakers tried to attract your attention with their spangly new cars. And the one where they grumbled that modern life is rubbish.
Posted by Paul Horrell at 4:55 pm on Thursday March 5, 2009
Yes, if you want a new car, life is fine. New supercars everywhere. Count ’em. Lambo Murcielago LP670-4 SV, Bentley SuperSports, Porsche GT3, the Aston One-77 in a more tangible form. Plus the Ferrari 599XX and Pagani Zonda R if you count them (I don’t – no numberplates). And this being Geneva, all sorts of largely ugly leftfield stuff from the likes of Gumpert and some even smaller men-in-shed operations.
The plutocrat in you can salivate to the Rolls 200EX or Lagonda. There’s the BMW X5 GT, about which I’m not going to tell you what to think – you have to figure it out for yourself.
There’s real-world stuff too. Some peaches of turbo hot-hatches – the Renaultsport Megane 250, the Alfa MiTo GTA, and MazdaSpeed3. Though we’re so quite convinced by the last one.
If you need an elevated compact family wagon, you could have peer over (in descending order of dullness) brand-new versions of the Toyota Verso, and Renault Scenic, or the Peugeot 3008 and Skoda Yeti.
And for small cars, VW steamrollered everyone with the new Polo. It’s a bit boring though. I got the hots for the Citroen DS3, which looks really good in the flesh.
So much for the cars. The carmakers hate life right now. Think of this: most of them will move into loss if they sell 10 percent fewer cars than they planned. Many of them are currently seeing sales down by half.
GM Europe has set itself up as a separate company from the US parent. It’s in just as much of a pickle as the Americans, and it needs a load of outside money to keep it afloat beyond a few weeks.
Yes, if European Governments don’t inject about £3billion very soon, Vauxhall and Opel go bust. Now I don’t think the Governments will let it go bust. But the problem is bigger than that. Propping GM up for a few months is one thing, but if car sales don’t pick up then they’ll be back for more. And no-one can see sales picking up.
GM Europe wasn’t very profitable even in the good times. In bad times with no apparent end, what hope does it have?
Ford is in a hole in Europe too, but at least when times are good it knows how to bounce back. The French too: they’re fighting hard with strong new cars. Fiat is still in the black, and VW is bursting with confidence. The Japanese aren’t at all happy, and nor are BMW or Mercedes, but they have sound long-term businesses.
I wouldn’t bet on all this year’s Geneva show front-line participants being back next year.
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