Geneva Motor Show 2017 Trip Report

A few weeks ago I went to the Geneva Motor Show 2017, mainly because I am looking for a new car for myself. I wanted to use the opportunity to take a seat in totally different cars of totally different manufacturers. As a matter of fact I was surprised positively by the whole event. You can not only look and test the vehicles to some extent, but also ask questions concerning various automotive topics.

The Geneva Motor Show at Palexpo 2017

Emissions – the hot topic out there

For me as a shareholder of Daimler, BMW, GM and others it was also an opportunity to evaluate these companies and their future proofness. One of the things I was particularly interested were the emissions of diesel and gasoline cars, since this has become a very hot topic in the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel affair. In addition to that there are also upcoming new regulations in several European countries including Germany (Euro 6c). I had some insightful talks with a few engineers from the major car manufacturers, which I will cover in a seperate article.

Geneva Car Show 2017- don’t go there by car ;-)!

First of all, as always the Geneva Motor Show 2017 took place at Palexpo. It is a very modern and large exhibition complex right next to the Geneva International Airport. My advice on how to get there: Don’t take the car. I know, it may sound a bit ironic, but driving through Geneva is an utter nightmare. The roadsigns are ambiguous and so is the way the police handels the traffic. It is more probable that you win the lottery than that you find a parking lot. There is a reason after all why most (or even all) hotels give you a ticket for public transport…

The bus system in Geneva is pretty efficient and they have a special bus service to the Geneva Motor Show.

Geneva is a nice Swiss city with a very special French touch

Of course I could not resist to have a walk to the beautiful Lac Léman, the lovely lake. There you can also see the town’s landmark – the Jet d’Eau, a massive fountain.

Geneva’s landmark – the Jet d’Eau or “Water Jet”

A very pleasant surprise: Cadillac

Now back to business: I was pleased to see that General Motors and Cadillac in particular showed a very intriguing performance. Not only the presentation of that lady was polished to perfection, but also the selection of cars such as the CT6, the Escalade and the CTS. The remarkable performance models rounded up GM’s portfolio. My impression of the CT6 was that it’s very well made and absolutely on a par with the German competitors.

While the hard product is impressive, I see a major downside on the European market: customer service. There simply are not enough Cadillac dealerships and as a shareholder GM I believe they should finally decide what they want: Keep the European market or leave it. But when they decide to stay, they should be willing to invest in order to have not only a good car, but also everything around it. Overall, I really liked what GM showed at the Geneva Motor Show 2017.

Cadillac presentation at the Geneva Motor Show 2017


The German carmakers 2017: trying to make the transition

In 2017 the German carmakers are trying to make the transition into a new age of mobility. New concepts are needed to meet new environmental requirements and to fight rising competitors like Tesla or Faraday Future. Btw Tesla was NOT in Geneva, which I found really disappointing.  At the same time the Germans have to keep their conventional fleets in shape – which is important, because they are the money machines right now. You could really admire this double burden at the exhibition stand of Mercedes-Benz (Daimler AG, yes I also own stock of them). In Geneva they showcased their new electric SUV “Concept EQ” which will probably enter market in 2019. It attracted a lot of interest from the visitors:

Mercedes electric SUV “Concept EQ”

Also they displayed the hybrid versions of the S- and the E-class at the Geneva Motor Show 2017.

Apart from many other vehicles Mercedes-Benz showed the X-Class pickup truck, which may have a bright future since luxury SUVs and Pickup trucks go like hot cakes.

Mercedes X-Class Geneva Motor Show 2017

The best thing about Mercedes Benz and also BMW was their personnel at the Geneva Motorshow 2017 though. Very professional, very attentive. I spoke to an engineer about the new Euro 6c regulations, effective from later this year. In essence it forces the car makers to reduce drastically fine dust coming from GASOLINE engines. Talking to that engineer I understood, what it takes to work at Mercedes-Benz: You have to be the best. I mean, that guy, he could explain every little detail of the engine and the combustion to me. It was mind-boggling.

Don’t underestimate future environmental regulations

The same applies to BMW. Although I had to use my knowledge of French excessively 😉 to get through to the German technical team of BMW, they answered all my questions about fine dust emissions. As a shareholder, but even more as a car owner, I can only say: Don’t underestimate this topic. Right now it becomes increasingly important not only throughout Europe, but worldwide. If you buy a new car that does not fulfill Euro 6c, you risk that you are not allowed to drive to the inner cities at some point in the (near) future. At least that will the case for Diesel engines below Euro 6 in the car city of Stuttgart, Germany. As gasoline-powered engines actually account for even more fine dust than diesel cars, it is very well possible that Euro 6 gasoline powered cars (and lower) will have the same problem sooner or later.

The good news is, though, that most German automobile manufacturers already know about this problem and work out solutions at least for their new cars. BMW even told me that their new 5 series is ready for Euro 6c.

At the bottom line…

The Geneva Motor Show 2017 certainly is a great event for any car lover. There are plenty of reasons to visit the Motor Show. If you plan to buy a new car it is the best opportunity to sit in MANY different vehicles. You can compare a Jaguar with a Mercedes directly within minutes. Where else can you do that? At the Geneva Motor Show you can! You can ask the most difficult technical questions and at least the German car makers have an army of well-trained engineers right there at your disposal.

If you are a shareholder you can get not only a hint about the competitiveness of a specific car manufacturer. No, at the Geneva Motor Show you also literally measure the overall sentiment in the industry itself.

Above all Geneva is a nice place to stay, with a marvellous lake surrounded by snow-clad mountains you can recognise in the distance.

I’d love to go there again next year!