The 2016 Geneva Motor Show promised a lot, and almost delivered. Here are a few sparks that caught my eye while being there on the first day when regular visitors were allowed.
For some reason, green tech blogs with over 2.1 million pageviews a year are not considered “press” by the distinguished organizers of the Geneva Motor Show, and were not accepted during press days.
I went to visit the swiss-made show with great expectations. I had hoped to meet Elon Musk, have a short interview with him, and show him my latest invention, Lighty, to see the reaction of world’s top technology man to it. But it was not meant to be. Someone from the Tesla stand said he was too busy to attend, and I totally understand why.
So I’ll start with…
#6 – Lexus LF-FC
The Lexus LF-FC is not for the faint of heart. The sedan packs two compressed hydrogen tanks underneath your feet, a high-voltage battery and an electric motor – all in one place, and execs call it “sporty,” despite its size.
However, the LF-FC is great-looking – the grille in front of it hides a big radiator that dissipates excess heat from the fuel cell stack (those heat up a lot!) and is transmitting Lexus/Toyota’s belief in hydrogen cars.
Now, I can’t stop remembering a few years ago when a Tesla Model S had an accident on a highway and a big steel bar punched through the battery, and the battery caught fire. I really don’t want to think about the unfortunate situation that could occur if a fuel cell tank would be stung by anything. Really. So that’s why I don’t believe putting two hydrogen tanks under the hood is safe. Albeit in only 0.001% of the situations, but it feels strange.
Things tend to happen just about when and where they really shouldn’t. I put it on the 6th place not because of the great tech used in it, but because I (and many others, including Elon Musk) think hydrogen is really the last resort option we should use in cars.
#5 – DS E-tense
No words could better describe the E-Tense than their own press release: “516 Nm and silence. 402 hp and zero emissions. 4.72 m long and 1.29 high.” The E-Tense is a stunning zero-emissions vehicle that catches your eye. Designwise, it looks like a half-blood between the Audi TT and the Bugatti Veyron, but I really don’t understand the role of that big grille, as long as it’s a battery powered beast. It’s still a concept, it looks hot but still has to prove a lot of other stuff to call it marketable. Very well done, DS.
#4 – BMW i8
Boasting good sales numbers (5,456 units in 2015), BMW showed off its new i8 Protonic Red Edition – a regular i8 with a red color scheme. It surely looks nice, but as far as I can see, BMW has paused innovation in the i8 – after launching the prototype in 2009, seven years ago – to see that the technical capabilities of such a great-looking car have stayed the same – it’s a bit disappointing. Unlike Tesla’s work.
And, unlike its rival, BMW is still producing the carbon fiber in the US, assembling the cars in Leipzig, Germany, and sending them back to the US, where most of its customers are. I put in on the 4th place because the car really lacks innovation lately. BMW can do more than just showing the same pimped Prius over and over again, imho.
As a surprise, they have also developed a bicycle. A BMW electric bicycle. See the images below.
#3 – The 2016 Nissan Leaf
The next Nissan Leaf comes with improved range (250 km / 155 miles) and a 30 kWh battery only for European customers for now. Also, Nissan has implemented a kind of supercharging ability in the new Leaf – the 2016 version will be able to charge to 80% in just 30 minutes, which is approaching Tesla territory.
Styling is the same: some like it, others hate it. They could’ve done a facelift in the meantime. They could also upgrade power a bit to 150 hp. Anyway, it’s a good car that has proved its durability ability to evolve since it was first sold 5 years ago. Not the most perfect, but it strives. It is cheap and second hand options are very, very affordable everywhere.
#2 – Quant
An unexpected contender to the “most beautiful and innovative electric car” trophy was Quant, and their nanoFlowcell® technology. Quant said they were able to drive for 1,200 kilometers on one charge of their electrolyte tanks and only 22% of the stored energy.
Their approach to batteries is a simple one: let the electrodes in the car and only change the electrolyte. Quant’s drivetrain works at only 48 volts and uses supercapacitors as buffer. My guess is that the 48V are converted to about 400 and stored in the supercaps, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to move the car to their claimed 200 km/h.
Quant is based in Zurich, Switzerland and now have three very sexy models: Quantino, Quant FE and Quant E.
It is by far the most innovative company I’ve seen at the Geneva Motor Show and in general. It totally changes the perspective on energy storage. Now I guess their tech can be discussed upon, and many impefections still keep it from becoming widely adopted, but it’s a start and an alternative to the alternative, which is good. Tesla or others may buy them and develop something smarter with Quant technology, who knows?
#1 – Tesla Model X P90D
After waiting in a line that stretched at least 2 kilometers around Palexpo, I went straight to the Tesla stand. It stood out in the crowd because it had the densest population around of the entire show. They only exhibited three cars: A Model X P90D and two Model Ses, a 70D and a red P90D.
The Falcon Wing doors are really amazing – while maybe looking futuristic to some, I think they do their job fairly well, especially after seeing them open and close for at least ten times while I stood there.
Now, at the end of the article, I’m not saying the other green cars weren’t innovative. I saw the Renault Zoe, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the cute BEE BEE XS, the new Prius, but the ones that promised most in terms of innovation, looks and market-readiness were these six above. I think I may have skipped Rimac Automobili, a true performance electric car built in Croatia, Europe, I really don’t remember seeing them there and am really sorry.
Last but not least, the girls at the auto show were the ones who kept the spirits up and running. It’s not easy to stand the whole day on high heels, give explanations to various types of people and maybe even get marriage proposals.
All in all, I think it was a successful show but green cars have been heavily misrepresented, which reflects the current state of things in the industry. To have innovation, you need flexibility. Big corporations seem to lack such qualities, and will surely be caught off-guard in the near future by newcomers like Quant or Tesla. Greenwashing is not an exotic term anymore, and these big corporations shouldn’t be practicing it anymore. It’s just not fair for its customers.