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Carmarkers square off in Geneva

2007-03-06 10:09

Audi A5

The days when Henry Ford could offer one model of car in one colour are long gone.

The huge variety of new models on display at the Geneva International Motor Show, from small city cars to people carriers and high-performance sports cars, demonstrate how carmakers are trying to keep up with a market that is fracturing into many niches.

Carmakers need to offer vehicles of all shapes and sizes, while still having big enough production runs to keep costs low in a very competitive market.

"Something has to give in Europe. The market is split between too many (manufacturers) with excessive product and powertrain proliferation," UBS analysts said in a recent note.

They expect the industry to fail to raise profit margins and then turn to mergers and acquisitions, out of desperation.

But for the next few years, the carmakers are banking on new product launches to kick-start sluggish sales and the annual Geneva show, opening to the media on Tuesday and to the public on Thursday, will reflect that.

Fast cars and gas guzzlers may still appeal to rich men, but manufacturers also offer models with low fuel consumption, family vehicles and cars designed to appeal to women.

Following is a summary of the main new models on display:


Audi will present the A5, a coupe version of the A4 with styling elements from the TT model. It also has an S5 variant.


A new M3, based on the 3-series with a V8 engine.


The Chrysler Group, which may be sold, will present the Dodge Demon roadster concept.


The five-door Brav marks the Italian carmaker's offering in the highly competitive and very important compact segment after its Stilo flopped. It seeks to expand from its stronghold in the smaller-car segment.


A new Mondeo medium-sized car, in three body styles and four series - Edge, Zetec, Ghia and Titanium X. It also has the C-MAX people carrier. Volvo presents a new V70 wagon.


European re-launch of the Cadillac brand with the CTS sedan, which has a 3.6-litre V6 engine. SRX luxury crossover and Escalade sports utility vehicle.

Saab comes with BioPower 100 concept car that runs on pure bioethanol. Opel shows a coupe that may signal the appearance of the new Vectra due in 2008.


Will unveil a hybrid sports car made by its European research and development centre.


The Cee'd SW, also designed in Europe, and the Rio Hybrid.


The European version of the Outlander SUV and Prototype X concept car


Will present what it calls an 'all new car for Europe' as well as the 350Z sports car. It is also expected to launch its premium Infiniti model for Europe.

PSA Peugeot Citroen

Will unveil its SUV models made with Mitsubishi - the Peugeot 4007 and Citroen C-Crosser. Also a Peugeot 207 Outdoor version, a small station wagon for family outings, and a 207 GTi for buyers that want more engine power.


Still awaiting the start of its product offensive with the Laguna launch in autumn, the French carmaker has some restyled models on show such as the Scenic Conquest 'designed to help owners make the most of the leisure time' with raised ride and rugged suspension. Also the Clio Rip Curl.


Toyota Hybrid X will show the future design trends of Toyota hybrid cars. The Lexus LS 600h sports car combines an electric motor and a five-litre V12 engine. Also three-door Auris.


The Passat BlueMotion is a clean and fuel-efficient version of the Passat. The Golf Variant is a station wagon version of the Golf and comes in addition to the bigger Golf Plus.


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