Blog: Le blog de Genève
Chris Wright | 8 March 2012
A well-earned night out for the team after two busy press days
Wednesday 7 March
TL - 7.00pm (CET) Lausanne
Wednesday - so we - that is Ant (273 pix and counting) Holdgate, boss Anna Ruddock and your correspondent - catch the train and rendezvous with the rest, hosted by Kia's Steve Kitson at a pub called the Pinte Besson in, appropriately, rue d'Ale. We have picked up, if you'll forgive the expression, Georgia Fox of Sims Images. She too is staying out in Lausanne - well out of Lausanne, as she puts it. Pinte Besson is reputedly the oldest hostelry in Lausanne but it serves traditional fondue which we have down our end while Stansfield, Wright and co tuck into the biggest steaks ever seen.
Almost. Well, they probably deserve it. Another show done, emails praising the coverage are shared. How can we improve for next time, asks Roger.
You'll have to wait. And by the way, did you know women have to use 10,000 words a day, but men only 2,000? That's Georgia's theory and she and Anna seemed to prove it. Strong, silent type signing off.
CJ - 5.50pm (CET)
I think that's me just about done. Back at the hotel and all copy written. Time I think to kick back and have a beer or two. The team is meeting up with the Kia PR team this evening. Let's see who wins.
TL - 1.00pm (CET)
Now here's an idea - guilty pleasures (of the four wheel kind) at a motor show, particularly Geneva where the Swiss love their styling. These are cars that you know you shouldn't like but do, according to Ford's Tim Holmes. How about Mansory and Gemball (or should that be Gumball?) for starters? Perhaps not. Any suggestions will be considered!
CJ - 12.50pm (CET)
This is all going downhill very quickly. Getting round the hall is impossible now the heaving masses have entered. Mind you, they seem to be quaffing the hospitality booze with a gusto that many a hack would be proud of. Just heard about Dacia’s plans for the UK and then left my phone on their stand. Why should that induce blind panic? We never used to have mobile phones or email how on earth did we ever manage? Renault then gave me a quick lunch for which I will be forever grateful and then left my bag on their stand. I now have everything back and making my way to the Kia stand to do some writing. Oh no, where are my trousers………
TL - 11.12am (CET) Geneva Palexpo
First baby spotted - well at least it was on second press day and not first when the 'surely too young to be journalists' count was a modest two, both aged around eight or nine.
CJ - 8.00am (CET)
A lie-in, of sorts. Maybe it was more than one last night. Anyway, most of the group are flying back to the UK later this morning but Roger, Steve Kitson and I are heading back to the shows – another pretty full day ahead. I am sooooooo looking forward to it. Plan is to leave early-ish and spend the evening touring the fleshpots of Lausanne. Well, having a fondue anyway. That should please Ant, it’s yellow.
TL - 6.30am (CET)
Forget what I said about Swiss trains last night - first one woke me at 4.30am then regularly from 6am. I need to sleep with the window open and my room in the splendid Royal backs onto the main line. Oh well, at least it gave me time to ponder more metrication: Mark Adams, Opel/Vauxhall chief designer, told me that the Mokka was only 10in longer than a Corsa. So that's 25cm or 25.4cm, as Andrew Didlick tells me.
Tuesday 6 March
TL - 18.30 (CET)
Much though we appreciate having a door-to-door chauffeur service (the aforementioned Peugeot 5008, now seven up including including driver), there is something to be said for using Geneva's free public transport service for show visitors – it's quick! The interminable traffic around Palexpo meant it took more than an hour from leaving the show to getting back downtown. Still, the conversation was entertaining. After nine interviews a beer seems appropriate before getting back to writing.
CJ - 2.30pm (CET)
So, the question is: how do people get the time to sit down and eat? I've been darting from stand to stand and each one is rammed with people filling their faces. But then, as ever, a good number of then can't possibly be journos. Just been in a round table with Opel boss Karl Freidrich Stracke who kept his cards very close to his chest on the subject of Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port factory. Everything is on the table, he said. Read into that what you will. Haven't seen photo shooter Ant since we met in the press room at 7.30am. He's obviously drowned in a sea of reveals. Either that or he's sitting on a stand eating.
CJ - 12.30pm (CET)
So far, I've been running to catch up since that early interview was delayed but I have had some interesting chats with Jeep, Ford, Suzuki and Honda. I've also bumped into a whole bunch of people I have not had a chance to actually stop and talk to. Next stop is the Kia stand. Two coffees and two cokes so far but no food. Someone pulled a lead out of the sound system on the Fiat stand earlier which sent a buzz - a very loud feedback buzz - through the show. This was followed a few minutes later by what sounded like a gunshot. Rather harsh punishment I thought. Also I would like thank Ford for playing the loudest imaginable music while I was interviewing Mike Manley at Jeep. We ended up yelling at each other and I've been hoarse ever since.
TL - 11.00am (CET)
Why do we still use mpg in the UK when all fuel has been sold in litres for 10 years? It was a question raised by Auto Express editor-in-chief Steve Fowler over dinner last might and emerged again this morning when we learnt that the Peugeot 208 will have emissions of between 87g/km and 99/km for the diesel model and from 99g/km for petrol models. See, grammes and kilometres again. Shouldn't we at least have miles per litre for fuel consumption or go the whole hog and switch to kilometres and litres per 100km for consumption? Buy Auto Express to find out the results of their survey, said Fowler, who revealed that a surprisingly large number of people favour miles per litre. Will it ever catch on?
CJ - 09.00 (CET) Geneva Palexpo
I don't know why I find this amusing but two place names on the way in from Lausanne were Gland and Coppet. Anyway the day has got off to a bad start with the first interview being delayed by half an hour which is going to have a bit of a domino effect. Having arrived at the show at 7.30am it all seemed nice and quiet. Not so now, I have already tripped over three trolley bags and why are these people wandering around looking at cars? Haven't they got any work to do?
CJ - 06.30 (CET) Lausanne
We are back on the bus with a packed breakfast. To be honest all I can manage is half a bun and a coffee, after all it is 5.30am at home. It's going to be a long, long day as I'm having dinner with Renault this evening so I will not get back to the hotel until around 11pm. Last night's Kia unveil was in an old stable and I'm sure there's a gag there somewhere but it's too early to think of one.
Monday 5 March
TL - 11.00pm (CET)
Fascinating evening with Keith Ryder, Peugeot's veteran designer, currently working on mid-size cars (so that'll be the 308 replacement, not that he would admit it). Keith, who hails from north-east England, has been with Peugeot for some 28 years and a couple of years ago decided he needed a change so spent 18 months in Sao Paulo, setting up Peugeot's Brazilian design studio. They have huge talent there, he says, and are extremely hard working.
The Sao Paulo studio has 3D capability but doesn't yet extend to building mock-ups. It joins Shanghai and Paris as the third of Peugeot's global design centres. One tip: drive a black car in Brazil. Keith had a 307CC which also had blacked out windows and was never stopped or hassled in the streets. "They must have thought I was a drug dealer," he joked.
TL - 6.10pm (CET)
You really can get six adults and their luggage in a Peugeot 5008 even if Peugeot PR Kevin Jones had to volunteer for the third row alongside the luggage. He assured us there was plenty of room, urging me in the seat ahead of him to move my seat back. Makes a change from catching the train from the airport and walking to the Capitole or the Nashville which have been headlineauto's show stopovers in recent years. The Hotel Royal where Andrew Didlick has us ensconced isn't far from either so handily placed.
Just heard that our snapper Ant Holdgate has had a long delay at London City airport but he's fairly confident of getting in this evening. I won't be joining him for our customary eve of show strategy meeting (a couple of beers at a rather good bar close to the station); dinner with Peugeot's design chief Gilles Vidal is on the agenda.
TL - 5.35pm (CET) - Geneva
Record time from home and through security at Bristol airport (just 19 minutes) gets the first part of the annual Geneva outing off to a good start. Sometimes we need to be thankful for EasyJet. Flying solo as I normally do for Geneva but at least I'm meeting up with Peugeot at the other end and staying with them which should be better than the hotels I normally end up in!
[PR chief] Andrew Didlick has just emailed to book me in for a round table with Frederic St Geours, VP of PSA brands tomorrow. That's interview #9 for me and takes the headlineauto team's tally above 25 for the first press day. It's going to be a busy show - and Matt reckons there are some 130 debuts as well.
This is, I think, my 24th Geneva show and my 20th successive one. I still get a buzz from it - will I still feel like that tomorrow night?
CJ - 2.00pm (CET) - Geneva
Off 'plane and on bus for one hour ride to the hotel in Lausanne. Back into Geneva this evening for a Kia presentation then out for steak and chips...
CJ - 12.50pm (GMT)
Somewhere over France. The BA flight is packed with most of the UK motor industry and journos. Quick chat with Vauxhall boss Duncan Aldred as we were in the queue to board. He was giving nothing away re speculation over Ellesmere Port but that's only to be expected. Roger has time with him tomorrow morning while I am seeing Opel chief Karl-Freidrich Stracke a bit later in the day.
CJ - 9.45am (GMT) - BA departure lounge, Heathrow
Well here we go again, bound for Geneva. Arrived in the BA lounge with the Kia massive. Colleague Roger Stansfield present and correct and moaning about the speed (lack of) of the wifi. Lewis will be joining the crew later going in from far flung Bristol airport. I have already had my shaving foam and deodorant taken away (it was ok last week). So a trip to the shops in the departure lounge which is normally against my religion. Looks like it's going to be a busy one, the three of us have something like 20-plus interviews to get through tomorrow and more on Wednesday so look out for a flood of copy - when we get to write it that is.