Fri, March 12, 2010
Business > Industries > Geneva Motor Show 2010

Smaller, cleaner cars steal the show in Geneva

2010-03-05 00:57:34 GMT2010-03-05 08:57:34 (Beijing Time)

2011 Tata Nano EV

For decades, post-war Europe and North America had two different tastes for the motor car, as Europeans opted for small Beetles, Minis and Cinquecentos, while Americans seemingly deemed bigger was better.

"My generation grew up with huge cars, long Cadillacs, things that looked like aircraft carriers going down the road," explained General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, a 78-year-old industry veteran.

But at the Geneva Motor Show, which opened Thursday, the two continents were set for a meeting of minds, as downsizing gained ground in the industry – smaller engines, smaller cars and less fuel.

In the Swiss city, Nissan, Mini and Dacia presented shrunken SUVs or crossovers that claim to mix off-road style with on-road sportiness.

Most manufacturers were also fitting smaller and cleaner -running engines, even in bigger cars, fitted with turbochargers to boost power.

Fiat, Opel, Ford, Volkswagen and even Mercedes and BMW were on trend, with six or even four cylinders replacing eight – and two or three replacing four in the smallest cars.

"In the next 10 years, the real trend will be downsizing and small cars for big mega cities," said Frank Schwope, a motor industry analyst at German bank NordLB.

In Asia, space and tax restrictions in densely populated Japan have traditionally favored compact vehicles while affordable, practical runabouts are in demand in emerging nations.

Colin Couchman, automotive analyst at Global Insight, said official pressure to cut carbon emissions and fuel consumption, with stringent limits looming in Europe or the US, was also telling.

"Increasingly, what they want to try and do is downsize, but offer products that work everywhere in the world."


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