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2019 Geneva Auto Show

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.  

Preview list

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.

Core Insights

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.   

Polestar 2The most significant production design debut In Geneva was arguably the Polestar 2; a new type of electric car: a slightly tall and broad, fastback lower-medium design that steps off the Volvo 40.2 concept from 2016 and very much defines a bookend for this new nordic brand. The Polestar 2 is ostensively set to complete with the Tesla Model 3, but with a far a more premium design inside and out it will take people away from cars like the Audi S3 and S5 also. Both in its subtly distinct conceptual design, and its innovative but refined design detailing, Polestar 2 shows how to deliver a car for the twenty-twenties that hits sweet-spots without looking like its trying hard.
Citroen Ami One conceptAmongst a plethora of concept cars in Geneva this year (we counted more than 30!) the Citroen Ami One concept stands out for being so fresh, even though it nods to the Osmose concept of 19 years ago and shares the same proportions (2.5 metre long, 1.5 metre tall and wide) and staggered two-seat layout of the original Smart City Coupe / Fortwo (although with its lightness and low power this is technically a quadricycle, not a car). It is unique thematically in its chunky strength and push-me-pull-me symmetry: doors, fenders, facia and lights are variably symmetrical left to right and or front to rear for a reduced number of parts and thus potentially reduced manufacturing cost. It’s also uniquely innovative in its deconstructed interior architecture, and in the way that it is conceived as a car to be shared by many, not privately owned by an individual.
Pininfarina BattistaThis is the first car from ‘Automobili Pininfarina’; a car producer that has stemmed from the famous design house Pininfarina. Named after Pininfarina founder Battista Farina, and purporting to be the world’s first electric hypercar — a claim underscored by four motors delivering a combined 1900bhp and a limited production run of 150 cars. The Battista is an interesting amalgam of new and old: a new car company from a brand famously part of luxury Italian cars for the last 90 years; classical Pininfarina svelte forms and supercar proportions cloaking a silent electric car powertrain from Rimac; and inside subtle forms and rich materials juxtapose an all-screen based advanced interface. With backing from Mahindra and Mahindra, with the incredible design and engineering capability of Pininfarina (who no longer design Ferrari cars), with the growing market for true luxury cars — and with impetus also from CDR — the Battista design makes a lot of sense.


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.