The 2019 Geneva Auto show kicks off on 5th March with a classic spread of new concept and production designs spanning the full spectrum from next generation iterative design to conceptually radical new vehicle types. We will be there, as ever, to see the latest designs in the metal and thoroughly check out all facets of the new production and concept cars debuting at the show with up-dated headline coverage published here.
Several brands are absent this year, including Ford, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Opel, Hyundai and Infiniti. But there are many major production debuts from many brands — Seat are showing three significant new designs — multiple model up-dates and European show debuts (not least the Porsche 992), and a new Ferrari. There's also a rash of new super-car designs from both established and start-up car brands — and several from design houses that always make a good Geneva showing. Looks like a classic Geneva Auto Show.
Three cars to summarise the bandwidth of Geneva 2019 means we have a tiny and bright quadricycle from Citroen designed to be shared and conspicuously using utilitarian design, we have the Polestar 2 that shows a clear (and very premium) design intent for this most northern of Tesla competitors, and we have the 1900bhp Pininfarina Battista hypercar that usurps even the most extreme propositions from the incumbent southern European sports-luxury brands.
Geneva 2019 was notable for both having less car brands present (Ford, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Opel, Hyundai, Infiniti were absent) but also for a huge number and variety of new designs. These sat across the spectrum of pure concept cars like the Aston Martin Lagonda All-Terrain, Nissan IMQ, and the Citroen Ami One, through the near-to-production designs such as the Seat el Born, Honda e Concept, and the Audi Q4 e-tron, to production debuts like the Polestar 2, Peugeot 208, and Mazda CX30. Within this spread sat a particularly large number of new supercars, and even hypercars - cars that go beyond the ’normal’ supercar like the (also new) Ferrari F8 Tributo in their performance and price; notably the 1900 bhp Pininfarina Battista and the 16.7 million Euro Bugatti La Voiture Noire.
Inherently such a breadth of new designs mitigates against seeing singular trends across the board that show the zeitgeist of the moment; Geneva 2019 was almost dizzying in its diversity of design ideas and aesthetics. Yet looking at the show with a little distance, there is one major take-away...
More so than any other show to-date, in Geneva 2019 we saw how vehicle design is disrupting. Incumbent car companies are feeling the heat of fast ascending Chinese car brands and can now almost smell a totally electric, shared, and connected Car 2.0 also. What is most interesting about this is how some design groups are realising how far to move and in what direction, whilst others have had their call-to-action button pressed but really don’t seem to know what to do; in Geneva there was a plethora of new designs that were either needlessly disconnected from their brands, or failing to offer relevancy to the immediate future — or both. Design that are clearly tying hard to assert themselves and be new and different, but don’t seem to have any reason to be.
So there is a clear trend for for disruptive design — car designs that are moving on from the legacy of the 21st century to offer something new, but they are falling into two camps: designs that have relevance for their brands and for the fast changing future mobility space, and designs that don’t.