GENEVA (March 10, 2015) — If you stood at the intersection of two of the walkways crisscrossing the auto show floor at Geneva's Palexpo convention center, you'd appreciate the wild contradictions of this year's Geneva International Motor Show.
On one side, the tiny British company Radical Sportscars showed its RXC Turbo 500, visually a mix of a race car and Darth Vader's helmet and fairly typical of the Geneva show. Nowhere else will you see so many small makers offering hypercapable, hyperstyled first cousins of Formula 1 racers.
But then if you turned 180 degrees, your eyes would fall on the stand of e'mobile, a Swiss association promoting green vehicles. E'mobile's “world premiere” is a charging station that looks like a small blue refrigerator but can charge four vehicles at once at up to 180 kilowatts.
Right there, in that intersection, you see an industry barreling headlong into a future of extreme performance capabilities, pressing environmental concerns, serious international tensions and heavyweight outsiders apparently angling for a way into the game.
The strange thing is it's kind of fun.
For one thing, this is the first European auto show in years at which conversations were mostly about cars, not the economy. Europe's recovery from the 2008 financial collapse has been painfully slower than that of the U.S. but is making progress.
Despite an underlying sense that much of the industry's health may depend on the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, the relief was palpable. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, summed up the state of Europe with tempered optimism.