• Switzerland's news in English

Geneva motor show: where's the electricity?

AFP · 10 Mar 2013, 17:22

Published: 10 Mar 2013 17:22 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Electric vehicles were not completely absent from the showrooms as the 83rd edition of the Geneva show kicked off, but no new models were unveiled and car company executives on site for the media days this week barely mentioned them.

"Public confidence (in electric) has really fallen since its peak at the Paris show in 2010, when we only talked electric," BIPE analyst Clement Dupont-Roc told AFP.

Back then, French carmaker Renault, which leads the electric market, opened the order books for its first electric models and chief executive Carlos Ghosn said he expected the cars to represent 10 percent of the market by 2020.

Renault's compatriot PSA also plunged into the space, as did Japan's Nissan with its Leaf.

But as things stand today, sales have fallen far short of expectations.

In France, which claims to be the leading market in Europe for electric, less than 6,000 new such vehicles were registered last year.

The low volumes are part of the explanation for the weak offering on display in Geneva, but there are other issues as well.

"There are three tasks we have to overcome when it comes to electric vehicles.

One is pricing, second is the milage they can cover and the third is infrastructure," Osamu Masuko, the president of Japanese Mitsubishi, told AFP at the show.

Mitsubishi has been providing PSA with electric cars, but last August the French carmaker halted the influx since it was unable to unload the ones it already had.

"We had weak forecasts for electric, and now, we're selling even less than those weak forecasts," acknowledged Maxime Picat, in charge of PSA's Peugeot brand.

Nissan has also been unable to meet its objective of selling 9,000 Leafs in Europe.

As a result, it was showing a new version in Geneva offering better range and especially a lower price, according to industry media.

Chevrolet, which already has the Volt electric car and is preparing to launch a new, smaller one called Spark, is also not betting on a European boom in the segment any time soon.

"I don't see (electric) growing in a down market," Susan Docherty, who head's the company's European operations, said at the Geneva show.

Analyst Dupont-Roc agreed that growth in the segment will likely be a few years off.

"A turn-around could come in 2016, 2017, when the electric vehicles that are today mainly bought for fleets arrive on the second-hand market," he said.

In the meantime, carmakers are biding their time, offering environment-conscious customers low-emission-small-engine cars, and are highlighting other greenish technologies like hybrids.

The leader in the sector, Japanese Toyota, for instance unveiled a new electric/gasoline hybrid at the Geneva show.

And PSA was pushing its Hybrid Air technology, which uses petrol and compressed air.

"We want to show that electric hybrids are not the only possible solution," explained Karim Mokaddem, who is working on the project and promises coming cars will use just three litres of gasoline to drive 100 kilometres.

Germany's Volkswagen, meanwhile, unveiled its lightweight plug-in hybrid XL1 at the show, which it says consumes less than one litre of petrol per 100 kilometres and weighs less than 800 kilograms.

But Volkswagen is only planning on making 250 units, and is unlikely to immediately take the market by storm.

Nissan, German Daimler and US carmaker Ford are meanwhile aiming to hit the accelerator in their development of affordable fuel-cell vehicles — a technology that is taking a while to get rolling but that they hope to get on the roads by 2017.

Story continues below…

The Geneva car show continues until March 17th.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

2013-03-12 13:15:36 by Fred Quimby
It is not rocket science. How many people in the target market for electric cars (25-45yrs) have their own individual garage where they can park and install a charger?

Ans: Not very many!

All the "rich" folk who are able to buy these kind of 2nd or 3rd car run-arounds and who also have an individual garage, mostly already have an oldtimer or a supercar in that garage, so even they also don't have room for an electric car!

I hate to say it, but..... electric cars are currently a big fat fail for the majority of the population. (Also, ask mobility how often their two electric cars are rented out from Luzern Bahnhof....).
Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available