• Switzerland's news in English
 
moving_to_switz_header

Geneva car show opens amid industry gloom

Published: 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
Swissport to be sold in multi-billion franc deal
Photo: AFP/Nicolas Maeterlinck

Swissport to be sold in multi-billion franc deal

Private equity company PAI Partners announced Thursday it is selling Zurich-based airport ground handling and cargo company Swissport International to China's HNA Group for 2.7 billion Swiss francs ($2.8 billion, 2.54 billion euros). READ  

Missing Swiss cats spark record helpline calls
Missing cats concerned 85 percent of calls. Photo: Dennis Jarvis

Missing Swiss cats spark record helpline calls

Switzerland’s recent heatwave resulted in a record number of cats going walkabout in the months of June and July, according to Swiss animal call centre STMZ. READ  

Swiss researcher creates yarn from abattoir waste
The yarn was spun from a gelatine-based thread. Photo: ETH Zurich

Swiss researcher creates yarn from abattoir waste

A PHD student at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich has devised a fibre with similar properties to merino wool from gelatine gathered from slaughterhouse waste. READ  

10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day
Head to Zermatt for a sunset dinner overlooking the Matterhorn. Photo: Marc Weiler

10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day

From mountain-top barbecues to sunrise breakfasts and cliff walks, follow The Local’s suggestions for making the most of Swiss national day on Saturday. READ  

Swiss watches stolen in second museum break-in
The town of Le Locle is a watchmaking centre. Photo: Neuchatel Tourism

Swiss watches stolen in second museum break-in

Burglars have stolen a number of valuable items from the watch museum in Le Locle, in the canton of Neuchâtel, just two months after a similar incident in nearby La Chaux-de-Fonds. READ  

Drunk Swiss man tied up on flight to Bangkok
The Thai Airways flight continued to Bangkok. Photo: Faisal Akram

Drunk Swiss man tied up on flight to Bangkok

Passengers on a flight from Zurich to Bangkok were forced to tie up a drunk Swiss man who caused a fracas during the journey. READ  

Solar Impulse
Millions needed by Solar Impulse after grounding
The solar-powered plane lands in Hawaii. Photo: Eugene Tanner/AFP

Millions needed by Solar Impulse after grounding

The team behind the sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 plane, piloted by two Swiss men, said on Tuesday that it needed an additional 20 million euros ($22 million) to complete a historic round-the-world flight after battery damage grounded it for months. READ  

Le Locle epidemic due to E.Coli in water supply
Residents are advised to avoid drinking the water in Le Locle. Photo: Neuchatel Tourism

Le Locle epidemic due to E.Coli in water supply

Authorities in Swiss watchmaking town Le Locle, where a mystery stomach bug has laid low up to 1,000 residents, have confirmed the presence of E.Coli bacteria in the water supply. READ  

Swiss equestrians ride again after drugs appeal
Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets compete in La Baule in May. Photo: Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP

Swiss equestrians ride again after drugs appeal

Swiss rider Steve Guerdat, the individual show jumping gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, is free to compete again after the international equestrian federation (FEI) announced on Monday they would lift a provisional ban. READ  

EXPAT GUIDE | Presented by Greenback
Taxes in Switzerland: the easy way
Photo: MoneyImages/Flickr

Taxes in Switzerland: the easy way

Tax season is daunting enough at home – let alone in a foreign country. That’s why expats David and Carrie McKeegan started Greenback, the tax company designed specifically for American expats. The Local talked to the couple about how to handle taxes in Switzerland. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
The Expat Guide: Moving to Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
National
Swiss army airlifts water to thirsty cows
International
Canary Islands: diver killed in collision with Swiss windsurfer
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
Politics
Immigrant recruits may not be loyal: Army chief
Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world flight halted for repairs
Society
Teenager gets high on vegetarian meal at Zurich club
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Sponsored Article
Geneva's revolutionary marketing education
National
Greece seeks tax revenues from assets 'hidden' in Swiss banks
Culture
Paris police arrest Swiss artist for naked Eiffel Tower selfies
National
Scientists uncover largest Swiss dinosaur skeleton ever found
National
National weather office extends danger alerts as heatwave takes hold
National
Most severe heatwave in Switzerland since 2003 on the way
Travel
Bogglingly expensive Geneva club sandwiches remain 'priciest in world'
Politics
Anti-immigration nationalist party remains most popular: poll
National
Greek finance minister slams Swiss over lack of tax evasion info
Business & Money
Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets next year
National
'Oh God — I'm coming': noisy lovers' complaint goes public
National
Canton of Ticino threatens closing Italy border to asylum seekers
National
Just in case: Swiss National Bank prepares for Grexit 'crisis'
National
Russian crisis fuelled by sanctions threaten 40,000 Swiss jobs: study
National
Art Basel: Art for art's sake — or to make an investment?
National
New survey ranks Zurich Europe's priciest city for expatriates
National
Quarter of residents in Switzerland 'have multiple homes'
Features
Veggie lovers and 'flexitarians' challenge Swiss meat-eating habits
National
Forest officials struggle to save Switzerland's dying ash trees
Education
Historian finds ancient Egyptian papyrus texts in Basel uni library
National
Seven large Swiss employers back 'flexible work' charter
National
Basel police rescue of ducks forces closure of A2 motorway
National
Mother and daughter die as rain storms lash central Switzerland
Sport
'Stan the man' Wawrinka: French Open triumph 'completely crazy'
Culture
Expat's Zurich 'then and now' video shows how little the city has changed
National
Phoney Geneva police officers rob tourists and UN staff
Sport
Blatter's abrupt resignation seen as a 'stunning capitulation'
Features
Cleanup crews head to ski resorts to keep Swiss mountains tidy
Culture
Interlaken museum showcases works by Picasso using Caran d'Ache pencils
National
Low interest rates give tenants right to seek rent reductions in Switzerland
Sport
Switzerland's Blatter fends off critics to win fifth term as Fifa president
National
Agricultural researchers discover why Swiss cheese has holes
Culture
Swiss filmmaker returns home to shoot 'gender-fluid' film in Ticino
Features
Severed rope recalls Matterhorn's first ascent 150 years ago
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

4,233
jobs available