From city cars to SUVs, smaller models dominate Geneva auto show lineup in era of austerity
Baku, March 7 (AZERTAC). After years marked by environmental concerns, then the economic downturn and now European austerity measures, car manufacturers have honed their products to cater for cost-conscious buyers. At the Geneva Motor Show, which opens to the press on Tuesday, Audi will unveil a new A3, Mercedes-Benz its rejuvenated A-Class, and Volvo its V40.
General Motors and Peugeot last week announced an alliance they hope will improve their prospects in the difficult European market, which has registered four consecutive years of decline. GM will take a 7 per cent stake in Peugeot, Europe`s No. 2 automaker, in a deal that foresees a common platform by 2014 and synergies in the purchase of parts. The carmakers say it will save them $2 billion a year within five years, split roughly equally. Peugeot is unveiling the new 208, a model that is especially important for a company heavily dependent on European sales. Peugeot has made the 208 both shorter and lighter than its predecessor, the Peugeot 207, a sign of where the auto industry is heading.
On the other side of the alliance, GM`s Opel will be introducing its new Mokka compact SUV, entering the expanding segment of compact SUVs occupied in Europe by the Suzuki SX4 and the Fiat Sedici. Fiat will unveil the new 500L — a multipurpose version of its hot-selling remake of the iconic 500, now nearly five years old. The five-seater vehicle is on a slightly larger platform than the 500 and replaces the now phased-out Multipla.
IHS automotive forecasts sales of the new model will rise to 420,000 vehicles in 2012, from 380,000 last year. New body styles such as the Gran Coupe and GT are expected to further increase sales to nearly 620,000 by 2014.