(4 Mar 2019) LEADIN
The Geneva International Motor Show is set to open this week, with luxury cars, hyper cars and electric cars set to take centre stage.
The annual industry gathering takes place against a backdrop of slowing sales in China, a potentially chaotic departure by Britain from the European Union and the US-China trade dispute.
It's that time of the year, when Geneva in Switzerland becomes the global hotspot for the motoring world.
The Geneva International Motor Show is claimed to be the world's most influential motor show, with car manufacturers eager to roll out their very best and luxurious cars.
"I think what's most exciting about this year's Geneva Motor Show is the number of true electric cars that are coming on sale that we're going to see for the first time," says Jim Holder, the editorial director of British motoring magazine 'Autocar'.
"The carmakers have to get serious now, not just about showing us electric cars, but selling them as well. And some of the cars we're going to see truly are inspiring. And they're going to lead the way for the new type of vehicle that we're going to be driving."
Tough new limits on emissions of carbon dioxide take effect in the European Union from 2021 and get even tougher in 2025 and 2030.
Carmakers originally bet on diesels, which are more efficient than gasoline engines, to help them cut average emissions.
But diesel sales plummeted in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015.
"I think what we're seeing is the established car makers are finally coming to the party on electric vehicles," says Holder.
"They have been cautious, there's no doubt about it. They don't see the profits in electric cars that they see in traditionally-engined cars. And they still don't. But they know they have to move now.
"Legislation is demanding lower CO2 from the sales that they make and that means either plug-in hybrid, electrified vehicles or fully-electric vehicles. And from the top of the industry, the super car makers downwards, they are all getting in on the act."
Geneva tends to be a place for high-end automakers, such as McLaren, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin, to show off rides with prices starting at hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This year is no exception - Volkswagen Group's Lamborghini will display the convertible Huracan EVO Spyder, a sleek, low-slung machine that goes from 0-100 kilometres per-hour (0-62 mph) in 3.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 325 kilometres per-hour (202 mph).
Aston Martin is expected to show a new version of its Valkyrie hyper car and super luxury brands Bugatti and Swedish auto maker Koenigsegg might also launch new cars at the show.
"I think when you look at the super car and the hyper car market, you have to remember the rich keep getting richer, no matter what the circumstances," says Holder.
"And that means there are people out there with the money to pay for these really exclusive, really high-performance vehicles
"What's interesting that even those vehicles are starting to move with the times. A lot of them are using hybrid power, electrified power in order to boost their performance as well as lower their emissions. And that can in fact make them more exciting than ever."
This year, the motor show is taking place against a background of slowing sales in China, the world's biggest auto market, a potentially chaotic departure by Britain from the European Union and the U.S.-China trade dispute could mean further trouble.
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