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Several long-awaited Tesla-fighting models from European automakers will be the center of attention at this year’s Geneva auto show.

After years of dismissing talk of a Tesla threat, alarm bells went off when the Model S outsold the Mercedes-Benz S class and BMW 7 series in Europe for the first time last year.

If Tesla overcomes its Model 3 production glitches, traditional automakers will have a bigger cause for concern, Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said in an investor note last week.

Jaguar’s I-Pace electric crossover is seen by industry watchers as the first credible all-electric Tesla rival. Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz also will showcase electric vehicles aimed at Tesla.

Geneva also highlights the industry’s shift toward electrification in the top-end and lower price brackets. Bentley will debut its first plug-in hybrid, while Hyundai premieres a battery-powered version of its new Kona small crossover.

BMW’s Z4 and Toyota’s Supra successor are likely to be among the showstoppers. The automakers developed the sports cars together.

General Motors’ former Opel brand, owned by France’s PSA Group, is skipping the show with nothing new to offer. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Fiat brands will be there but without all-new products. Ford is limiting itself to showing the European version of its freshened Edge crossover, saving its big European launch of the year, the Focus, for a standalone event in April.

The show is open to the public March 8-18.

Here’s a look at debuts planned.


The e-tron battery-powered crossover that will rival the Tesla Model X and Jaguar I-Pace is not expected to be on Audi’s show stand because it will be officially unveiled in August at an event in Brussels, where it is being built. However, some e-trons are expected to be displayed on the show grounds for test drives. The e-tron is already available to order in some European markets and is expected to go on sale in the U.S. next year. Audi is expected to debut its latest A6 sedan. The Mercedes E-class and BMW 5-series rival will get technology and styling cues from the recently re-engineered A8 and A7 models. It moves to a new platform and will be lighter and more agile than the current car.


The Bentayga plug-in hybrid will be Bentley’s first electrified vehicle. The hybrid drivetrain likely will be similar to that of the Porsche Panamera E-Hybrid, which mates a 2.9-liter V-6 with a 136-hp electric motor for a combined power output of 462 hp. The Panamera plug-in can travel 30 miles on electric power.


BMW’s new Z4 roadster is expected to debut, as is its Toyota sibling, the Supra successor. The automakers began cooperating on sports cars in 2012 as part of a technology sharing agreement. BMW previewed its version with the Concept Z4 last summer at Pebble Beach. The Z4 gets a fabric roof while Toyota’s version is a coupe.

BMW ramps up its focus on profit-boosting, high-margin sports cars with the 8-series coupe. The luxury grand tourer will go on sale this year as a rival to the Mercedes S-class coupe. Its production form closely follows the Concept 8 series shown at the 2017 Villa d’Este concours d’elegance in Italy. BMW is also expected to show a near-production concept for a high-performance, 600-hp M8 version.

The second-generation X4 gets a show debut. The coupe-styled crossover moves to BMW’s CLAR platform and becomes lighter, more efficient and roomier with sportier riding dynamics.


The 710-hp 488 Pista is Ferrari’s most powerful V-8 car to date. The Pista goes from 0 to 62 mph in 2.85 seconds. Top speed is 211 mph. Ferrari said the midengine supercar’s sporty dynamics and technological carryover from racing are a significant step up from its previous special series models.


Ford will show a face-lifted European version of the Edge. The European version of the Focus compact will be Ford’s most important launch in the region this year but its unveiling is being saved for a standalone event in April. Ford will also show its Ka+ budget subcompact hatchback with a face-lift.


Designer Giorgetto Giugiaro’s GFG Style will unveil an electric sedan concept developed with Chinese energy management company Envision. The concept has autonomous driving capability.


Hyundai will debut its redesigned Santa Fe crossover and expand its green car offerings with the Nexo fuel cell crossover and a battery-powered version of its Kona subcompact crossover.

The Santa Fe is longer and wider than the current model, giving it a bigger cabin. It also gets a more premium interior and new safety features such as a rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance system to automatically brake the car if it detects vehicles about to cross its path when reversing.

The Nexo is built on a new dedicated fuel cell platform unlike its predecessor, which was a retrofitted Tucson. The new platform allowed Hyundai to boost electric motor output to 120 kilowatts from 100 and extend its driving range by 30 percent to around 350 miles. Hyundai said the Nexo’s blind-spot detection system, which shows drivers rear and side views while changing lanes, is an industry first.

U.S. sales start in the fourth quarter.

Hyundai will add a full-electric version of its Kona subcompact crossover, which replaces the Accent hatchback. Hyundai said the Kona EV will have a range of up to 300 miles on a single charge. U.S. sales have not been confirmed.


The Zerouno targa is the second product from the Italian design house’s new Automobili Speciali division created last year to build limited-production cars. Italdesign, which is part of Volkswagen Group, will build five units of the $2.4 million, V-10- powered two-seat targa, which shares its platform with the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracan. Italdesign will also show an evolution of its Pop.Up flying car developed with aircraft manufacturer Airbus.


The production version of the I-Pace, Jaguar’s battery-powered five-seat crossover, will debut. The I-Pace concept was unveiled at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. The I-Pace is built on a unique, aluminum-intensive platform and has a range of 220 miles from its 400-hp twin electric motors.

Land Rover

Land Rover’s Range Rover subbrand will add the limited-edition three-door Coupe SV as its new flagship model. The SUV will be Land Rover’s most expensive model when it goes on sale this year.


The UX small crossover is the production version of the UX Concept shown at the 2016 Paris auto show. It will get a more toned-down design than the aggressive-looking Concept, which had heavy creasing, bold blister fenders, angular wheel wells and a massive mesh version of the brand’s trademark spindle grille.

The UX is expected to be based off the Toyota C-HR subcompact crossover, which is built on Toyota’s TNGA modular platform that underpins the Prius. Powertrain details for the UX are under wraps, but a hybrid is certain to be among the options. All-wheel drive is also a possibility.


McLaren says the 789-hp Senna is its most powerful road-legal track car to date. The midengine coupe is powered by a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine. It’s named after former Formula One champion Ayrton Senna. The supercar accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds. Top speed is 211 mph. McLaren is building 500 units of the car and they are already sold, priced at £750,000 ($1 million) in the automaker’s UK home market.


Mercedes says it will show its first series-production model with battery-electric drive but offered no further details except to say it will provide a look to the future portfolio of its EQ subbrand. The model could preview a Tesla Model X rival based on the Generation EQ concept that Mercedes unveiled at the 2016 Paris show.

Mercedes will show the production AMG GT Coupe after the concept’s unveiling last year. Despite the word coupe in its name, it has four doors and is expected to get AMG’s 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 engine with 604 hp. A hybrid variant with 805 hp is also planned, reports said.

Mercedes will also show another high-performance model, the AMG variant of its latest G class. The Mercedes-AMG G63 is powered by a 577-hp, 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The high-performance SUV will reach the U.S. by the end of the year.

A big debut for Mercedes is the latest A-class compact hatchback. Mercedes touts the car as a “smartphone on wheels” because it will offer what the automaker says is the most advanced human-machine interface it has developed to date.

The A-class hatchback will go on sale in Europe in May. A sedan version will arrive in the U.S. late this year as the brand’s new entry-level model below the CLA.


Toyota is expected to debut a concept for a successor to its Supra performance coupe. The company released a teaser picture for a “modern racing concept” this month. The Supra, which is being developed in partnership with BMW, is expected to get a BMW engine and underbody, with a Toyota-styled top. Toyota’s version is expected to put more emphasis on performance.


Volkswagen brand’s I.D. Vizzion fastback concept will be used to test customer acceptance for a long electric vehicle in key sedan markets such as the U.S. and China, a VW spokeswoman said. The concept previews a possible flagship sedan that would be a battery-powered successor to the slow-selling Phaeton and would compete directly with the Tesla Model S. It has a system output of 225 kilowatts (equivalent to 302 hp) and its 111-kWh lithium ion batteries enable a driving range of up to 413 miles when braking regeneration is factored in. Top speed is 112 mph.

The Vizzion has no steering wheel or visible dashboard instruments and hints at what a fully autonomous VW car could look like.


The redesigned V60 station wagon continues the electrification of Volvo’s lineup. The V60 will be offered in the U.S. with Volvo’s T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid that delivers 386 hp. Volvo has loaded the second-generation V60 with safety technology. One of its systems includes steering help when automatic braking would not stop a collision with another vehicle, pedestrian or large animal. The wagon also has a system that helps drivers avoid collisions with vehicles in the oncoming lane. The new V60 is longer than the current model but not as tall or wide. U.S. sales start this year.

BMW, Toyota could steal the Geneva show” originally appeared in Automotive News on 2/26/2018

By Paul McVeigh, Automotive News