Report from the 87th Geneva International Motor Show

By Christian Stampfer on 7 March 2017
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The Geneva International Motor Show (Salon International de l’Auto) kicks off the automobile year 2017 in Europe as the first important international auto event for car manufacturers. The show opened to the media at the beginning of the week although the big news – the sale of General Motors’ Opel unit to PSA Group, maker of Peugeot and Citroën – came from Paris on Monday.

Automakers put forth an unending display of new SUVs and high-performance sports cars this year as the industry put on an optimistic face despite uncertainties stemming from Brexit and possible changes in U.S. trade policies.

Behind merger headlines and supercars, automakers voiced real concern over forthcoming EU emissions standards. Forgetting about Brexit for a moment, and with diesel in the doldrums, the lack of electric-vehicle and battery manufacturing capacity in the European Union will make it difficult for automakers there to meet the carbon dioxide emissions targets set for 2020/2022 without significant changes in their current lineups. Things may actually get worse before they improve given the European Union’s plans to include the impact of air conditioning on fuel consumption and the more rigorous Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure or WLTP on fuel consumption and emissions.

Opel unveiled the Crossland X SUV, built on a platform it shares with PSA Group, and Jaguar Land Rover debuted its Range Rover Velar. The Crossland will be one of the smallest SUVs on the market, shorter even than the automaker’s Astra compact hatchback. Opel was originally going to launch the Insignia Grand Sport and Insignia Sports tourer but, with the announcement of the PSA deal, switched gears.

The Range Rover Velar, whose interior is more interesting than its exterior, has an exceptionally frugal yet opulent cabin, with a minimal number of physical switches. Most controls are hidden and light up when touched.

Volkswagen debuted the all-new Arteon, a stylish four-door that combines the space and practicality of a family car with the look of a sports car.

Meanwhile, Volvo introduced the second generation of its XC60, its best-selling model. The 2018 XC60 features a cutting edge design in the vein of the XC90 with cutting-edge safety and driver assistance technologies that include self-steering head-on collision avoidance.

After revealing its roadmap for autonomous driving at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January, BMW introduced its new “semi-autonomous” 5 Series Touring. The car is intended to “point the way to automated driving with the help of new assistance systems,” the Bavarian automaker said at the show.

The Geneva show opens to the public Thursday and runs through March 19 at the Palexpo exhibition centre next to Geneva’s airport.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)