Geneva auto show dips deeper into electric
Carmakers plan large-scale rollouts of 'clean' vehicles by 2025
8 March, 2018
A big number of electrified sport utility vehicles debuted at the Geneva International Motor Show that kicked off last Tuesday as carmakers facing tighter environmental regulations look to a popular category with the size needed to accommodate bulky batteries. Overall, carmakers plan large-scale rollouts of electrified vehicles going into 2025, banking on improvements in battery performance. SUVs seem poised to become the first battleground.A prototype of Audi's upcoming e-tron, painted in a camouflage pattern, made an appearance at a Volkswagen group event last Monday night ahead of the show. The electric SUV production will begin in Belgium this year for a rollout in early 2019. The e-tron can travel roughly 500km on a full charge. Toni Melfi, Audi communication head, called it superior in every way to US automaker Tesla's rival Model X.Separately, UK-based Jaguar Land Rover showed off last Tuesday its first pure-electric car, the Jaguar I-Pace. The vehicle is set to become the second electric SUV on the market, after the Model X, when it launches this summer. The I-Pace, a crossover combining traits of an SUV and a coupe, features an interior large enough for five, a 480km range, and motors that can generate a total of nearly 400 horsepower. Jaguar Land Rover is working on electric or hybrid options for all models.Toyota Motor, which recently said it will no longer offer diesel versions of new models in Europe starting this year, unveiled last Tuesday the Lexus UX crossover. The UX, the fourth SUV under the luxury Lexus brand, will feature a hybrid powertrain as a basic option. The Japanese automaker has found success with electrified SUVs in Europe, where hybrids account for 78% of its C-HR sales.With demand for compact cars and minivans shrinking, SUVs are among the few bright spots in the global auto market. Total SUV sales in 52 markets grew 13% last year, while the segment's market share rose 3 percentage points to 34%, data from UK research firm JATO Dynamics shows. But SUVs emit more carbon dioxide than lighter vehicles. Volkswagen says it cannot cut CO2 emissions from compact SUVs beyond 120-140 grams per kilometre, well above the 95-gram fleet average that EU regulations will require in 2021. Developing hybrid and electric SUVs will be crucial to meeting this target.The Geneva Motor Show is seen as the most neutral of the car shows, taking place in a country that is neither auto industry hub nor make-or-break market. Absent here is the kind of dominance German carmakers like Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW would have at the Frankfurt Motor Show, or the outsized presence of French manufacturers like Renault and PSA. As a whole, 180 exhibitors gathered at Geneva's Palexpo Arena despite Tesla, Opel, Chevrolet and a handful of others missing from the show. The Geneva Motor Show comes at a moment where European carmakers in particular are seen to be tackling the car industry's future challenges at different speeds, with past miscalculations proving costly in the present.
The new Lexus UX was shown at the 88th Geneva International Motor Show.