• Switzerland's news in English

Geneva car show looks to turn corner on crisis

AFP · 2 Mar 2014, 10:38

Published: 02 Mar 2014 10:38 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Luxurious sports cars, high-end SUVs and city cars will be bumper-to-bumper at the March 6th-16th show -- one of the auto industry's biggest and most diverse events -- as it cruises out from under the long shadow of industry crisis.

Carmakers and analysts alike say the worst of the difficulties are now in the rear-view mirror.

"The worst of the crisis is over, so the mood should be good," Jürgen Pieper, a car industry analyst with German bank Metzler, told AFP.

New car registrations in the European Union slipped just 1.7 percent last year, to 11.8 million cars sold, after five years of far more brutal falls.

But sales are finally expected to pick up this year, according to German car industry analyst Stefan Bratzel.

By how much remains to be seen: the most cautious observers expect sales to remain flat while the most optimistic are gearing up for three-percent market growth.

"The markets fell really low, so obviously they will have to start picking up at some point," EY analyst Jean-Francois Belorgey said, adding that northern Europe was doing better than the south of the continent.

France remained a dark spot on the European map, seeing car sales in 2013 fall to their lowest level in 15 years with little prospect of growth this year, while Italy also touched rock-bottom, selling just 1.3 million cars.

"The economic fundamentals in France and Italy remain fragile," Belorgey acknowledged.

And despite the expected upturn this year, Europe's car industry remains plagued by overcapacity and profitability issues for mid-range carmakers, according to credit insurance and analysis group Euler Hermes, pointing to several recent factory closings, at PSA, Opel and Ford.

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

Their international presence allows them to counter still sluggish sales in Europe and keep their factories running at full-tilt.

Volkswagen raked in a net profit of €9.1 billion ($12.6 billion) last year, while Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz and Smart among others, posted a record net profit of €8.7 billion.

And the German manufacturers are aiming for even better traction with a range of new products, including the Volkswagen's third generation Audi TT and a new BMW compact.

France's Renault and Italy's Fiat have seen far more modest profits, while PSA Peugeot Citroen suffered a 2.3-billion-euro loss last year, although it hopes a cash injection from the French state and China's Dongfeng will put it on the road to recovery.

Despite their continued hardship, French carmakers should play a more central role at this year's Geneva Motor Show, where smaller city cars are expected to get more attention than previously.

"They are presenting a number of important new products," Pieper said, listing for instance Renault's launch of a new Twingo, which will face off against the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108.

Story continues below…

Such small, punchy city vehicles will as always have to battle for attention with exceptional, luxury cars at the 84th edition of the Geneva car show.

While the show will not feature last year's overwhelming display of extravagant machines priced over the million dollar mark, there will still be plenty to see for car enthusiasts.

Ferrari's new version of its California T sport car and Lamborghini's new Huracan, both priced at round 200,000 euros, will likely draw crowds.

But perhaps the most popular attraction at this year's show, set to open to the public on Thursday, will be something in between: super trendy SUVs and crossovers.

Porsche, once known only as a sport car maker, will for instance speed into the mid-size SUV range with its new Macan, in the hope it will prove as popular as its big sister Cayenne, which accounts for more than half of the carmakers sales.

American carmaker Ford is meanwhile revving up to unveil a third installment of its hugely popular compact Focus — the world's most sold model.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

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