Hypercars mingle with station wagons at Geneva auto show

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This undated image provided by car manufacturer Opel AG, shows a Opel Insignia Grand Sport, right, and the Insignia Sports Tourer station wagon. (Adam Opel AG via AP)
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This undated file picture provided by car manufacturer Porsche AG shows the Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo. (Porsche AG via AP)
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This undated photo provided by Daimler AG shows Mercedes X-Class cars. (Daimler AG via AP)
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This undated photo provided by car manufacturer Citroen, shows a Citoen C-Aircross Concept, car. (Citroen via AP)
Updated 05 March 2017
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Hypercars mingle with station wagons at Geneva auto show

FRANKFURT, Germany: Europe’s automakers face huge questions: the impact of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, President Donald Trump’s proposed border tax on imports, the uncertain prospects for electric vehicles.
Meanwhile, they have to keep selling cars in a ferociously competitive European market.
That mix of anxiety about the future and the need to market hot products today will mark the 87th Geneva International Motor Show. The show convenes Tuesday and Wednesday at the Palexpo center next to Geneva’s airport for two days of vehicle unveilings to journalists and CEO interviews. It then opens to the public Thursday and runs through March 19.
Here are major themes likely to mark the show.
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RIDING HIGH IN SUVs
A key trend at Geneva show will be the shift from minivans to small sport-utility vehicles, which combine car-like features such as plush interiors and sleeker rooflines with off-road features like high clearance.
PSA Group’s Citroen C-Aircross concept is expected to replace the current C3 Picasso. General Motors Co.’s Opel will show off its Crossland X, a model that turned out to be a sign of things to come: it was developed with the PSA Group, which has agreed to purchase Opel. The deal is expected to be announced Monday.
In SUVs, consumers like the rugged, utilitarian look and the higher riding position, which gives drivers a feeling of safety, says Tim Urquhart, principal analyst at IHS Automotive. And for the companies, “you can sell the same technology for a higher margin,” Urquhart said. Small SUVs can re-use many of the mechanical foundations of small cars, spreading manufacturing costs.
In the higher price range, Range Rover’s Velar boasts a six-cylinder gasoline engine that reaches 100 kph (62 mph) in only 5.3 seconds.
Other model launches include the convertible version of the E-Class from Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz luxury brand; Daimler’s Mercedes-AMG performance division will offer a station wagon with a big 4.0 liter engine and acceleration like that of a sports car — 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 3.5 seconds. Not to be outdone in the family transport department, rival BMW is coming ahead with a station wagon version of its 5-Series.
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HYPERCARS
Geneva is usually a good show for stunning, unbelievably fast sports cars costing hundreds of thousands, or more.
Ferrari has the 812 Superfast, equipped with a 12-cylinder engine generating 789 horsepower. Singapore-based Vanda Electrics Pte Ltd. offers the racecar-like, low-slung Dendrobium.
The Huayra Roadster from Italy’s Pagani stands out with a bold curve running from roofline through roof pillar to the hood. It’s powered by a gigantic 6.0 liter, 12-cylinder engine turning out 764 horsepower.
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TRUMP, BREXIT
Companies with assembly or parts production in Britain — such as Ford, General Motor’s Opel division, BMW, and Nissan — face decisions about what to do with investment and production there as Britain prepares to leave the EU.
Prime Minister Theresa May is due to trigger Brexit this month, starting two years of negotiations on a new trading relationship between Britain and the EU. The main concern is whether Britain leaves without retaining some access to the EU’s tariff-free single market. The auto industry is vulnerable as it depends on the supply of parts that cross many borders before a car is complete.
Similar uncertainty is coming from Trump’s talk of a tax on imports from factories in Mexico. It’s a potentially big development — though it hasn’t happened yet.
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ELECTRICS
The auto industry has sunk billions into developing new electric cars, but they won’t stand out at the Geneva show as they did at the Paris show last year, when Volkswagen and Daimler both made a big deal about battery-powered concept cars.
Global battery car production will amount to only 0.7 percent of the 93.5 million vehicle global car market this year, say analysts at the IHS Global Insight forecasting firm.
Consumers are held back by obvious drawbacks: limited range, the need to find a place to charge up, higher price and doubts about battery lifetimes. Lower oil prices have also held back adoption.
Carmakers are betting that the day of the electric car is coming, in part because of government emission limits and concerns about air quality in cities around the world. And battery capacity keeps improving. But the tipping point where large numbers of people opt for a car you have to plug in remains several years off at the very least.


Audi launches electric SUV in Tesla’s backyard, with assist from Amazon

Updated 18 September 2018
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Audi launches electric SUV in Tesla’s backyard, with assist from Amazon

SAN FRANCISCO: German luxury car brand Audi on Monday staged the global launch of a new electric sport utility vehicle on the home turf of rival Tesla Inc, and highlighted a deal with Amazon.com Inc. to make recharging its forthcoming e-tron models easier.
The Audi e-tron midsize SUV will be offered in the United States next year at a starting price of $75,795 before a $7,500 tax credit. It is one of a volley of electric vehicles coming from Volkswagen AG brands, as well as other European premium brands including Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo Cars and Jaguar Land Rover.
All aim to expand the market for premium electric vehicles and also to grab share of that market from Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which has had the niche largely to itself.
“I want Audi to be the number-one electric vehicle seller in America over the long term,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is also head of rocket company SpaceX, planned to mark the e-tron launch occasion by staging a SpaceX event in Los Angeles at roughly the same time on Monday evening as Audi’s unveiling.
Audi and parent Volkswagen are using the US launch of the e-tron SUV in mid-2019 to take aim at one obstacle to expanding electric vehicle sales — the lack of convenient ways to recharge their batteries.
Audi will partner with online retailer Amazon to sell and install home electric vehicle charging systems to buyers of the e-tron, the companies said on Monday. Amazon will deliver the hardware and hire electricians to install them through its Amazon Home Services operation.
Amazon’s partnership with Audi to provide home charging systems is the first time the online retailer has struck such a deal with an automaker, and signals a new front in Amazon’s drive to expand its reach into consumers’ homes beyond the presence of its Alexa smart speakers in living rooms and kitchens.
“We see charging installation as a very important business,” Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon Home Services, told Reuters at Audi’s launch event in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center.
Audi executives said home charging stations would cost about $1,000, depending on the home’s electrical system.
Tesla offers wall connectors for home charging at a $500 list price, and will arrange for installation, according to the company.
At the same time, Electrify America, a company funded by Volkswagen as part of its settlement of US diesel emission cheating litigation, plans to launch next year the next round of installations of public charging stations, Electrify America executives told Reuters.
Tesla has developed its own network of Supercharger charging stations with more than 11,000 chargers in North America. Electrify America plans to have 2,000 chargers installed by mid-June next year. Those will be open to any vehicle, and customers can swipe a credit card to recharge.
“We want to work with all” automotive brands, said Giovanni Palazzo, Electrify America’s chief executive.

Lifting the Curtain

Audi has been heralding the launch of the e-tron SUV for some time, but until Monday it had not shared many details of the vehicle.
The e-tron is electric, and has two electric motors — one in the front and one in the rear — driving all four wheels. The Hungarian factory building motors for the e-tron will start with a production pace equivalent to 200 vehicles a day, Audi officials said.
In Europe, the vehicle will use cameras instead of conventional mirrors to give drivers a view to the rear. That feature is still not approved by US regulators.
However, in many other respects the e-tron is a conventional, mainstream luxury SUV. It offers seating for five, and its length and wheelbase position it in the center of the market for midsize, five-passenger luxury SUVs such as the BMW X5. The e-tron is 5 inches (13 cm) shorter than the Tesla Model X, and it has conventional doors. The Model X uses vertically opening “falcon wing” doors.
The e-tron will have an advanced cruise-control system that can keep the car within a lane and maintain a set distance behind another vehicle, but the system will be designed so that drivers must keep hands on the wheel.
Audi officials said they do not have official range estimates for the e-tron SUV under US testing procedures. The e-tron’s 95 kWh battery has less capacity than the 100 kWh battery used in the Tesla Model X 100D model, but more than the base Model X 75D.
The Model X 100D is rated at 295 miles (475 km) of range by the US government.