The Geneva Auto Show may be one of the most important shows of the year, it is also one of the smallest when comparing floor space. As a result of the limited space, brands focus on their brand new models, the ones that are being introduced at the show.
For example, more than three quarters of the Toyota stand was dedicated to the new Aygo, with more than 10 of these brand new city cars on the stand, and for the rest only one Yaris, an Auris hatchback and an Auris station wagon. A similar strategy was used by Renault, showing around 10 newly introduced Twingo minicars, three hot selling Captur small SUV’s, three Clio’s and a handful of Renault EV’s. No Scenic, no freshly facelifted Megane, no Laguna, Espace or Koleos.
But the displays that struck me the most, where those of two struggling automakers, one of which has already been announced to get pulled from the European market, and the other is rumored to retreat to its home market as well: Chevrolet and Lancia. At Chevrolet, proudly connected to the Cadillac stand, only the two surviving American models were shown, the Corvette and the Camaro. You would be wasting your time searching for any of the brand’s South-Korean models, even the relatively fresh Trax, which is actually not even selling half bad in Europe. Apparently, Chevrolet has not found it worth the investment in a larger display booth to show models that they still need to sell for another 22 months. At least the atmosphere of the stand was upbeat and positive, thanks to the incredibly well-received Corvette Stingray and there was something new to show: the strikingly beautiful convertible version of the Corvette, as well as the C7-R racer.
At Lancia on the other hand, the atmosphere was telling for a brand in crisis. They had nothing new to show, and didn’t even bother to bring any of their other models except the Ypsilon minicar. Looking at the sales numbers, that makes some kind of sense, but how do you expect to sell those cars if you’re not even showing them? Just four lonely Ypsilons, which have been on the market since 2011, made a telling sign for the brand that is rumored to retreat to its home market of Italy, where almost 80% of its total volume is sold.
The contrast with the opposing stand of Jeep couldn’t be bigger. The American off-road brand was vibrant and alive, with two new models in the last two years, one of which making its worldwide debut in Geneva: the Jeep Renegade small SUV. It will be the first Jeep to be produced in Italy and judging from the reactions, it is going to put the Jeep brand back on the map in Europe. Even Alfa Romeo had news, with special versions of its remaining two volume models, the MiTo and Giulietta, and the worldwide premiere for the 4C Spider.
Chevrolet and Lancia may be hiding behind the excuse of limited floor space, but especially for the Italian brand, it was more than just a lack of product or a lack of news. Nothing is impossible, but I fear it will be too late for the legendary brand with the great heritage.