Blog: Dave LeggettCloud over Geneva

Dave Leggett | 3 March 2009

It’s early March already and the annual Geneva Show kicks off this week. There is sure to be some glitz despite the current state of the industry. The cars on show were lined up for Geneva well before the economic storm hit.

But it will be interesting to gauge the industry’s mood at the show.

On the product side and given the cold winds blowing in car markets, I expect the small cars on show will be getting plenty of attention. Carmakers are continuing to put design resources into getting a premium feel – and higher margin – from a car with relatively compact dimensions.

How do you keep the cost down, but give the customer an experience that includes ‘premium’ elements? A sub-brand founded on styling is one way to go. Citroen’s DS concept has clearly been informed by BMW’s hugely successful Mini. Fiat is doing similar things with the 500. And

Kia’s new Soul is another example where a manufacturer attempts a reinvention of the product in what might broadly be termed the compact car area, but with a clear emphasis on style.

FEATURE: Kia gets Soul

But downtrading or downsizing is all relative isn’t it? I expect there will be some who go for the baby Roller (an upcoming small Rolls Royce based on the EX200 concept that will be shown in Geneva) because it seems slightly more in keeping with the times than a Phantom. Some people have more room on their belts when it comes to belt tightening.

Anyway, from an industry perspective, there will certainly be plenty to look out for from Geneva this week as executives find themselves in the spotlight. Last week we heard that GM’s European operations will now become more independent from GM. That is just one example of how structural changes are being wrought on this industry. There is more to come and that, coupled with the black cloud of economic uncertainty hanging over the defiant glitz of the Palexpo show halls, is still the main story.

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