SUVs, sports cars pro­vide roar at Geneva show

In­dus­try is fac­ing un­cer­tainty over Brexit, U.S. poli­cies.

Austin American-Statesman - - MONEY & MARKETS -

Au­tomak­ers are putting a slew of new SUVs and high-per­for­mance sports cars on dis­play at the Geneva In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show as they try to keep up mo­men­tum in an in­dus­try fac­ing un­cer­tain­ties from Brexit and pos­si­ble changes in U.S. trade pol­icy.

Jaguar Land Rover on Tues­day showed off its Range Rover Ve­lar, a sport-util­ity that prom­ises crisp han­dling and ac­cel­er­a­tion. Gen­eral Mo­tor’s Opel di­vi­sion un­veiled the Cross­land X, based on a plat­form shared with PSA Group.

The ve­hi­cle is a sign of more to come, since PSA Group has agreed to buy loss-mak­ing Opel from GM. The Cross­land taps into a trend of build­ing ev­ers­maller SUVs; this one is a lit­tle shorter than the As­tra com­pact hatch­back that serves as the brand’s main­stay.

PSA Group it­self had a new SUV, from its high-priced brand DS. The DS7 Cross­back has head­lights that ad­just to driv­ing con­di­tions and distinc­tive scale-pat­tern rear brake lights.

An­a­lysts say con­sumers like SUVs’ higher rid­ing po­si­tion in traf­fic, and the per­ceived added space to carry things.

A spe­cialty of the show in wealthy Geneva is breath­tak­ing hy­per­cars — sports cars with ever-big­ger en­gines and quicker ac­cel­er­a­tion. This year is no ex­cep­tion.

McLaren’s 720PS sports car caused a pedes­trian traf­fic jam at its un­veil­ing as jour­nal­ists and in­dus­try work­ers crowded the dis­play stand to take pic­tures and cell­phone video of the sleek, bright-orange speed­ster. Weigh­ing only 2,828 pounds un­fu­eled, the car’s 720 horse­power en­gine pushes it to 62 mph in only 2.9 se­conds, with a top speed of 212 mph. De­liv­ery to cus­tomers starts in May; prices in the U.K. start at $252,400.

Fer­rari’s 812 Su­per­fast has flaps that shift po­si­tion to im­prove aero­dy­nam­ics, and a gi­ant 6.5-liter, 12-cylin­der en­gine. The Huayra Road­ster from Italy’s Pa­gani shows strik­ing de­sign, with sweep­ing curves and side mir­rors on curv­ing py­lons.

Ex­ec­u­tives were of­ten asked about the im­pact of Bri­tain’s pend­ing de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union af­ter a ref­er­en­dum last year. The terms of the de­par­ture from the free-trade bloc have not been ne­go­ti­ated, leav­ing ex­ec­u­tives ex­press­ing hope for an am­i­ca­ble divorce that does not im­pose heavy im­port taxes, or tar­iffs.

Jim Far­ley, Ford Mo­tor Co. ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and pres­i­dent of Ford of Europe, noted the com­pany has about 15,000 em­ploy­ees in the U.K. and about half of them make en­gines that are shipped to Europe, in­stalled in ve­hi­cles and some­times re-im­ported into the U.K.

“So any kind of tar­iff for us in the whole in­dus­try would be a huge head­wind and also for cus­tomers, you know, the prices would be much higher,” he told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

“We’re very op­ti­mistic that the U.K. and the EU will work out a non-tar­iff agree­ment for our sec­tor.”

Au­tomak­ers also face un­cer­tainty from pro­pos­als by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to im­pose a bor­der tax on im­ported au­tos.

If en­acted, such a tax could dis­rupt cur­rent pro­duc­tion ar­range­ments, es­pe­cially for au­tomak­ers who im­port into the U.S. from plants in Mex­ico.

The Geneva show opens to the pub­lic Thurs­day and runs through March 19 at the Pal­expo ex­hi­bi­tion cen­ter next to Geneva’s air­port.


Opel’s new In­signia Sports Tourer is pre­sented at the Geneva In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show. PSA Group has agreed to buy loss-mak­ing Opel from GM.

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