• Switzerland edition
 
Geneva car show opens amid industry gloom
An Audi A3 Sportback TCNG, one of the cars to premiere at show. Photo: AMAG

Geneva car show opens amid industry gloom

Published: 03 Mar 2013 11:02 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Mar 2013 11:02 GMT+01:00

Plunging prices and over-capacity will again this year cast a shadow over the Geneva International Motor Show, which kicks off at the Palexpo exhibition centre this week, but plenty of luxury racing dreams should still be prominently on display.

The European auto industry got off to a bad start in January, when new car registrations in the European Union plummeted to their lowest level since 1990 after an already catastrophic 2012.

Only 12 million cars were sold last year -- the lowest number since 1995.

Switzerland, the host of what is one of the auto industry's biggest events, is a rare bright spot on the crisis-hit continent.

The Swiss, who do not belong to the EU, saw new car registrations jump 2.4 percent last year from an already record year in 2011, with 431,000 new registrations.

For the neighbouring EU nations, however, the end of the tunnel remains out of sight and most experts refuse to guess when, if ever, the market will come roaring back and hit its pre-crisis 2007 level of 16 million cars sold.

Stefan Bratzel, a German car industry analyst, expects to see sales across Europe slip five percent this year and predicts that the mood in Geneva will be jaded.

German carmakers, who sell heavily in North America and Asia where sales -- especially at the high end -- are up, are nonetheless doing quite well.

Daimler and Volkswagen raked in record net profits in 2012, and BMW looks set to do the same.

European leader VW, which saw its net profit soar 40 percent last year to €21.7 billion ($28.6 billion), pulled far ahead of the next in line, PSA Peugeot Citroen.

The French company has had a very bumpy ride and suffered a €5 billion loss last year. In July it announced the closure of its historic plant in Aulnay, near Paris.

US carmakers Ford and General Motors, who lost billions of dollars in Europe last year, also decided to shut down plants, with Ford closing sites in Belgium and Britain and GM closing an Opel plant in Germany.

"We are only just getting started on the reorganisations" in the auto industry, Fitch analyst Emmanuel Bulle cautioned.

"Suppliers, who are also suffering, will also start facing this issue," said Max Blanchet of the Roland Berger consultancy, predicting that between 40,000 and 80,000 jobs could disappear from the European car industry over the next two years.

Other carmakers, in less dire straits, have opted for a softer approach.

French Renault for instance is aiming to reach an agreement with the unions allowing salary cuts in exchange for it agreeing to keep up production in France, after it completed a similar deal in Spain.

Trailing its high-end competitors, Daimler plans to cut costs by two billion euros in its cars division by the end of 2014 in a bid to improve profitability.

Italian Fiat meanwhile is turning towards luxury car production to maintain its industrial base in Italy, and recently inaugurated a Maserati plant near Torino.

Indeed, the luxury segment continues to stubbornly resist the crisis.

As in previous years, exceptional vehicles will be at the forefront of the 83rd edition of the Geneva car show.

The most spectacular and most expensive new vehicles this year are expected to come from Bentley, McLaren, or perhaps Ferrari, with a "supercar" worth an estimated one million euros.

Both high-end and other brands have definitely been busy. No fewer than 130 European and world premiers are set to be unveiled at the show, which opens its doors to the media on Tuesday and to the public on Thursday, and runs until March 17th.

A special pavilion will be dedicated to so-called "green" cars, which will represent 10 percent of all the models on display.

While fully electric cars will hardly make the cut, low-consumption vehicles and hybrids will be prominently displayed, according to Juergen Pieper, a car analyst with Metzler bank.

The Geneva car show runs from March 7th-17th.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Special permits for foreign strippers to end
Photo: AFP

Special permits for foreign strippers to end

Bern says it plans to stop issuing special work permits for foreign strippers hailing from countries such as Russia, the Dominican Republic and Thailand. READ  

Federer and Nadal win with ease in Basel
Federer acknowledges hometown spectators after win. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Federer and Nadal win with ease in Basel

Top seeds Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal raced through their Swiss Indoors assignments on Wednesday, spending under an hour each on court and dropping just five games between them. READ  

Swiss seek Unesco listing for yodelling
Photo: Swiss Images.ch/AFP

Swiss seek Unesco listing for yodelling

Switzerland announced on Wednesday that it would like the Alpine country's deep-seated traditions such as yodelling and precision watchmaking to be inscribed on a United Nations global heritage list. READ  

ABB's orders rise but third-quarter profits dip
Photo: ABB

ABB's orders rise but third-quarter profits dip

Swiss engineering group ABB on Wednesday reported a surge in orders from the energy industry in the third quarter, but warned of headwinds from the slowing global economy. READ  

Red faces at Migros over Hitler coffee cream pots
Photo: AFP

Red faces at Migros over Hitler coffee cream pots

Swiss retailer Migros apologized on Wednesday for what it said was a string of errors which put coffee cream with the faces of Hitler and Mussolini in cafes in the Alpine country. READ  

Cold and snow signal end to Indian summer
Webcam view of La Tzoumaz in the 4 Vallées resort area in the canton of Valais on Wednesday. Photo: Televerbier.ch

Cold and snow signal end to Indian summer

After a summery weekend with temperatures as high as 24 degrees, parts of Switzerland experienced an early taste of winter on Wednesday with snow falling at levels as low as 600 metres in some areas. READ  

Switzerland regarded as 'best place for expats'
Photo: Zurich Tourism

Switzerland regarded as 'best place for expats'

Switzerland is the world's favourite destination among expats, followed by Singapore and China, a poll on quality of life for bank HSBC found. READ  

Swiss Guard launches popes' recipe book
Photo: AFP

Swiss Guard launches popes' recipe book

From an Argentinian dessert that translates as "milk candy" to Polish ravioli, a member of Vatican's famed Swiss Guard on Tuesday unveiled a range of recipes of dishes favoured by popes. READ  

Zermatt ranks among top places to visit in 2015
Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Zermatt ranks among top places to visit in 2015

Swiss mountain resort Zermatt is listed among the world's top ten towns and cities to visit in 2015 by Lonely Planet, the travel guide. READ  

Swiss pedestrian safety takes turn for worse
Drivers largely responsible for upturn in pedestrian accidents: report. Photo: BFU

Swiss pedestrian safety takes turn for worse

Although Swiss streets are regarded as among the safest in the world, a pedestrian dies on average every week from motor vehicle accidents, while two are seriously injured every day, the Swiss accident prevention bureau (BFU) says. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Majority of Swiss back proposed new immigration curbs: poll
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,263
jobs available