2010 Geneva Motor Show: Wrap up
One way or another, the future looks electric
Geneva, Switzerland - If it's futuristic, it has to be electric. But if it's going into production this year, thriftier gasoline or diesel engines will do for now. That's the message coming out of this year's Geneva Motor Show, where the vast majority of automakers featured an enviro-friendly message backed up by a gas-electric hybrid or full-electric plug-in concept vehicle.
But in the end it was still more hype than substance, as only one new automaker confirmed its entrance into the gas-electric hybrid business here this year, and backed up the talk with a new production vehicle.
Porsche gets into the hybrid game in a big way
That would be Porsche with its new Cayenne S Hybrid, introduced as part of a new second-generation line of 2011 Cayenne SUVs that will launch this summer, although the hybrid and V6 versions will arrive in Canada in the fall. Making the Cayenne Hybrid unique among hybrids is an all-electric highway mode, which promises to shut off the gasoline engine entirely, using only the battery to propel the big SUV at higher speeds.
Porsche says this cruise mode can disengage the gas engine completely at speeds up to 156 km/h, giving the S Hybrid V8 performance with V6 fuel economy, with an overall Euro average fuel consumption rating of 8.2 L/100 km.
The new Cayenne Hybrid pairs a supercharged 333-hp 3.0-litre V6 from the Audi S4 with a 47-hp electric engine, for a total of 380 hp. This powerplant offers its ample 427 ft.-lb. torque peak at a mere 1,000 rpm, which is just above idle in most cars that aren't hybrids. That low-end electric grunt should help the hybrid feel as energetic or even moreso than its more powerful V8 and V8 Turbo versions, which the S Hybrid will slot between in price.
"Today, we're starting the hybrid age for Porsche," said Porsche AG president and CEO Michael Macht at the 80th Salon International de l'Auto in Geneva.
Of the numerous world debuts from mainstream manufacturers at this show, about half of those generated power to the wheels through electricity, either fully or partially as gas-electric hybrids. Almost all of them were concept cars. The other half consisted of actual production models, which were all more fuel efficient, but will only arrive in traditional gas or diesel engines at launch.
More hybrids on the way
The Cayenne S Hybrid may have been the only hybrid unveiled in Geneva confirmed to actually go on sale in North America this year, but there were other hybrid unveilings and "concepts" that are much closer to production than true concept vehicles. Infiniti unveiled its M35 Hybrid, which is slated to go on sale in early summer 2011, BMW showed its 5 Series ActiveHybrid Concept that looks production ready, and Audi showed a gas-electric version of its new generation A8 flagship, which it confirmed early last month will go into production, just not when.
The Audi A8 Hybrid shown in Geneva featured an electrified version of the brand's 2.0-litre direct injected and turbocharged TFSI four-cylinder engine, making 245 hp and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. Despite the A8's size, Audi puts acceleration from rest to 100 km/h at a very respectable 7.5 seconds, especially in light of the Euro-cycle average of 6.2 L/100 km fuel consumption rating.
Audi also had the highest profile celebrity appearance in Justin Timberlake, packing the German luxury brand's large display during its press conference with wall-to wall-people, and what looked like just about every woman in the building under 40 years of age. Coming in a rather distant second for celeb wattage was the appearance of Michael Schumacher at the Mercedes-Benz stand, along with fellow 2010 Benz Formula One driver Nico Rosberg.
Luxury and performance brands embrace the electron
Mercedes-Benz's hybrid concept unveiling, the F800 Style, was not quite as close to the production end of the concept car spectrum as its German rivals' hybrid "concepts." The F800 Style is a design precursor to the upcoming remake of Benz CLS four-door coupe, with a plug-in hybrid gas-electric powertrain that can run the car for about 30 km and up to 120 km/h on electric power. As a hybrid, the F800 Style can reach 100 km/h in a little over 4.7 seconds, and has a top speed of 250 km/h. The F800 Style can also be powered by a fuel cell, said Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche, "which would mark the first rear-wheel-drive production fuel-cell vehicle in the world."
Even Ferrari is getting into the hybrid game, if only at the concept stage, with one of the most high-profile unveilings at the show, the 599 GTB HY-KERS, a gas-electric version of the 599 GTB V12 sports car. Its bright green tinge allowed newspapers and websites across the globe to exclaim "Ferrari goes green!" even though the car is strictly a prototype tester. Still, Ferrari has an ambitious target to hybridize all its cars with the HY-KERS F1-derived brake regeneration system, and cut emissions by 35 per cent over the next three years, said company president Luca di Montezemelo.
Challenging the Ferrari HY-KERS for hybrid hyper performance audacity was Porsche's 918 Spyder Concept, a 718-horsepower mid-engine beast that "could easily become the next Carrera GT," said a Porsche rep. The Porsche RS Spyder race car-based mid-engine two seater sends electric power to both its axles, giving it all-wheel drive when it needs it, but RWD otherwise. The plug-in 918 Spyder would offer an electric-only range of up to 25 km, and average as little as 3.0 L/100 km, according to Porsche. That's assuming of course that you're not pushing the car's 9,200 rpm redline, tackling its stated top speed of 320 km/h, or trying to match Porsche's incredible 3.2 second 0-100 km/h acceleration time.
What can Canadians look forward to?
Besides the new Cayenne, other vehicles unveiled in Geneva that will appear in North America include its sibling, the Volkswagen Touareg, the sinfully styled Nissan Juke small crossover, the similarly sized Mini Countryman crossover, and two other small crossovers - the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport and the Kia Sportage. Mazda's redesigned 5 mini-minivan, Volvo's new S60 midsize sports sedan and the almighty Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera will be on their way over the next year. Hopefully Audi's RS5 super-coupe and Alfa Romeo's Giulietta will also make the trip over too.