Fire, flight, and femmes: Geneva 2018

The future of the automobile, through the crystal ball of the Geneva Motor Show


The Bentley Bentayga Hybrid can recharge via its own Philippe Starck-designed wall charger.

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND—The Geneva Motor Show is the first major European auto show of the year, and acts as a harbinger for the auto industry.

Carmakers big and small bring their wares to Switzerland to showcase design and industry trends.

Here’s the vibe from the 2018 Geneva Motor Show:

The future is electric

Tesla did not have its own booth at Geneva, but it is still the name on everybody’s lips when it comes to electric cars.

The carmaker from Silicon Valley has carved out quite an attractive niche: high-end, high-peformance electric cars, and many wanted in on the action, from Germany’s premium car makers to Nissan and Hyundai.

The latter even put up a cheeky billboard outside the exhibition hall: “Your move, Elon.”

Porsche’s rival to the Tesla Model X SUV is about a year or so away, and it will use the company’s Mission E brand and platform.

Mission E promises an all-electric range of about 500 km, and quick recharging, thanks to a high-voltage electrical system.

Bentley’s gigantic SUV, the Bentayga, will get some points for improving its efficiency, at least for its hybrid version.

No definite figures were given, but we surmise that the plug-in hybrid Bentayga will be able to cruise on electric power for about 40 km.

Charging is via a custom Philippe Starck wall charger that can double as an art piece.

Lamborghini showcased its Terzo Millennio electric supercar. Audi also has an electric SUV on the way, and its motorsport effort is now focused on the Formula E series instead of the fire-breathing endurance series that includes the famous Le Mans 24 Hours.

Well-clothed models of both genders, more like salespeople, were the norm at Geneva 2018.

The championship-winning Porsche 919 hybrid was on display the night before the motor show opened, but the next day, it was only the Audi e-tron race car that was on display.

Ride sharing…somehow

Sharing vehicles becomes much more efficient when there’s no need for a driver…or so the carmakers foresee.

Volkswagen’s Geneva display was centered on shared mobility, using self-driving vehicles. Its Sedric (for self-drIving car) is a living room on wheels, capable of picking up and dropping off passengers who may or may not be its actual owners.

VW is launching its Moia ride sharing service service in Hamburg, using an all-electric six-seat shuttle. Two hundred vans will be deployed, and up to 1,000 in the near future.

The new I.D. Vizzion is now part of a trio of electric vehicle concepts that the brand will be offering as fully autonomous by 2022.


While there were many warm and fuzzy notions of future motoring, there were also many fire-breathing cars with fossil-fuel burning engines.

Beside the electric Mission E Cross Turismo was a car that was very loud, even if hadn’t been started: Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS.

Since it manages to squeeze even more horsepower (520 hp) out of a naturally-aspirated flat-six engine, and it carries a huge rear wing for added downforce, the RS will no doubt make for an entertaining afternoon at one’s favorite racetrack.

Wings and scoops fit for an airplane were on display at the McLaren stand, where its carbon-fiber track vehicle with the evocative name, Senna, evolved into Senna GTR.

The Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo is a peek into the future of electric performance vehicles.

The track-only Senna GTR will have at least 825 hp and more than 1,000 kg of downforce.

As an indication of the current economic climate, the legendary 1990s McLaren F1 took some months to sell out 100 units.

The road-going Senna model sold out its 500-unit run even before the motor show.

Playstation fans will feel their jaws drop at the Aston Martin booth, where Formula 1 designer Adrian Newey and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner unveiled the Valkyrie AMR Pro.

The Valkyrie AMR Pro is a what-if type of car, as in, what if a Formula One car could be designed without restrictions.

It leaps from the video game screen to the track, with an 1100-hp V12 accelerating less than 1000 kg of sports car.

The Mercedes-AMG GT gains two seats and two doors, in the confoundingly named GT 4-door coupé.

The new car promises plenty of space in the back, and plenty of power—up to 639 hp.

The Ford GT

There were plenty of smiles at the Ford booth at Geneva, thanks to the activities surrounding the Mustang Bullitt cars, both the original and new versions.

Visitors could star in their own movie clip, chasing for the last parking space in a tight garage, behind the wheel of the Mustang. They could also do their best Steve McQueen impression for their own Bullitt poster.

Porsche tuner and car manufacturer in its own right, Ruf Automobile, showcased a new prototype based on a previous nameplate, the SCR.

The new SCR looks like a classic Porsche 911 but it is built on a carbon fiber-monocoque, with carbon fiber body-shell.

The 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engine nearly matches that of the 911 GT3 RS, at 510 hp.

Far-out concepts

Renault showcased a living room on wheels called the EZ-GO.

Instead of side doors, the EZ-GO has a huge ramp that opens up from the front. Of course, the Renault is capable of autonomous driving.

Autonomous driving? Ho hum…what we want is flying cars! And there was one, or at least a concept from Audi.

The Pop.Up Next is a flying car, essentially a two-seater passenger cabin that can be attached to car module or a flight module.

The flight module takes the form of a large-scale quadcopter. Vehicles of this type have been demonstrated before, so perhaps this is not as outlandish as we might think.

The concept is a collaboration with Italdesign and Airbus, so the flight credentials are credible.

Gender equality

Something was notably absent at most of the booths at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

The so-called “booth babes” were scarcely present, replaced by well-dressed models of both genders. The booth models were reportedly chosen more for their ability to sell the cars and tell visitors more about the brands than as mere window dressing.

The change comes as many industries, including carmakers, have become more conscious about gender equality.

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