Friday, March 17, 2017

Geneva Motorshow 2017, The Interesting

Harry's Garage: Geneva Motorshow 2017

(Subtitle: The Good Stuff Post)

It is time for our first yearly take on the Motorshow.  As a fan of ex EVO editor Harry Metcalf  I prompt you to watch his above video summary  (and please consider subscribing to his gratis YouTube channel  for sound motoring insights).

Meanwhile Agata and Marcus:  we saw, we walked, we talked, we liked.

This year the emphasis was on going to fewer stands, actually talking in depth with dealers about products that we were seriously interested in, rather than window shopping.   In 2017 with our projected move from Switzerland it was our chance to find out what if any could be our next motor.   We are especially looking out for aspects like: Hybrid or Electric Power trains,  Not boring, Hatchback practicality always good, Supercars considered,  1 car better than two, Chaviness is always the enemy, Weight is always the enemy. So with that list of somewhat conflicting parameters defined, what did we find?

Kia Niro

The Kia stand is almost first to see after the accessories hall  (that you have to walk thru at Geneva to get to the cars.   This was a great introduction to current state of Electric Hybrid technology

 A tiny 1.56 KWh battery feeds a 32KW motor that is literally sandwiched between the petrol engine and the gearbox.  Inline.  Interesting technology

BMW i8

A wonderful car held back by a staggering price.  In the UK the base price without a single option is 104K GBP.

Still I thought maybe we could consider and I went to find a BMW salesperson.  Nope, the car is locked and you can't even sit inside.  Not impressed BMW.

 Most curious was that in the front was a large grille with holes in it.  I think if it rained a lot of water would enter.  Is this drained?  Can I leave the car outside in the rain?  Sounds stupid but the hole in the bonnet is huge!

Technically  this car has a 3 cylinder 1500cc petrol Engine that develops 231 BHP.

This is supplemented by a 5.2 KWh Lithium Ion battery good for a claimed 30Km of electric only driving using the 131 BHP electrical motor. (96KW).

The fact that this car is a hatchback and coupe ticks all our boxes.  Just that the price is bonkers.  At half the price we'd be signing that contract now, but at 104K GBP + extras.  No chance.

BMW i3

Much cheaper though still just over 30K GBP is the BMW i3.  Tested here

 Batteries from Poland.  We do approve

 The front boot is sort of comical

Now with a 33KWh battery, and with the range extender complete with a 2 cylinder petrol engine, 647 cc .

The electric motor is 125KW  i.e. 168 Bhp and the electric only range is (with the latest bigger battery) 190Km ish.

The Range extender can charge the battery whilst the car is in motion sufficient to maintain the battery charge.  So AFAIK so long as you keep filling up the 2 UK Gallon tank  (!!) then you can keep your battery charge and keep driving infinitely.

It's a professional bit of kit, but you are paying 30K for a vehicle that might otherwise cost say 20K GBP, and 10K GBP pays for a lot of petrol!

Alpine A110

(Original car

This is a new exciting sports car  (not electric) and we are very interested.   Marcus called Renault (the parent) about a month ago and asked about a deposit and was told to download an App!   Yes that is the way

I was not prepared to put down a 3K euro deposit without even seeing the car but apparently other people were!  All the premier edition first cars in UK and Europe have now been sold and deposits collected.

I suspect many of these are speculative and the final price, a crucial factor I will argue is still not published.  Hmmm.

To read the press release  you will find the car weighing an astonishing 1050 Kg.  Now that is light.

We spent over 30 minutes talking to the Marketing and Technical people on the stand.   Here is our assessment

Rear boot has a relatively small opening but space is available upto the wings left and right

Yes that is Marcus.  Cabin is welcoming inside

Wheels pretty ordinary

Beautiful rear.  No rear spoiler by design.  Technical indicated its aero flat underneath instead

Glass cover above the mid placed engine.  Well you have to go into the boot, unscrew I think 3 bolts then the glass screen will hinge upwards.  Then you can see the Engine to perform basic maintenance e.g. oil.

A very decent cockpit but it lacks the polish of say an Audi TT RS.

Beautifully sporty and functional cabin.   Electric brake.   Drive, Neutral and Reverse buttons.

Quilted interior

We are still seriously considering whether the Alpine A110 could be our next sports car, because now we have a Motorhome that can be used for Race day bicycle transport, our other vehicle can be something really impractical!

2017 Nissan Micra

The micra is a work in progress right now.   Only a puny 0.9 litre engine is available and there no Electric or Hybrid options will be offered according to the on stand Staff.

So far then disappointed!

Volkswagen and Audi

Both Audi and Volkswagen have had interesting products like the A3Sportback e-tron and the Volkswagen e-Golf

One number that keeps coming up so I remember it is about 12KWh per 100Km .  For that rough number you can take the battery size e.g about is 24.2KWh and calculate max range of about 200 Km.

Hyundai Ioniq
 A great car for the nuclear family of 4, but for Marcus and Agata can't we have something smaller lighter and sportier?

Check the website for the different models.  Very interesting since you can have a pure electric, hybrid (i.e. not chargeable)  or plug in hybrid model.

Mitsubishi MiEV

So this car looks like an inexpensive electric car but checking the UK website it seems obsoleted.  Hmmm.

Renault Zoe

Follow the link above for the fully charged review.  The new 41KWh battery provides a NEDC range of 400Km  which in cold weather is realistically 120 miles or 195Km.

In the UK you can now buy or lease the car but on the UK website I could only find car purchase + battery rental.  Best car is now 25K GBP for the British market and battery hire of 70 GBP per month+

In the above example you see that the battery will cost you 70*36 = 2520 GBP.   Quite reasonable.

Toyota Prius

You know how n+1 generation cars are always larger than generation n.  Well the Prius might make a good taxi when carrying passengers is defacto.  However for Marcus and Agata who travel with 2 people except by exception this car is monster large.  Not even worth considering!

And finally :-)

Honda NSX

As a generation 1 NSX owner Marcus and Agata have a soft spot for the latest car and being a hybrid we are seriously interested.  There is of course the 143K GBP price  + extras to consider, but for now let's consider the car irrespective of price.

This gen 2 car has received praise from many motoring magazines.  Like gen 1 it's very easy to drive and could be used as a daily driver,  if you are willing to face the depreciation and difficulties of safely parking it .

 Wheels are differently sized front and back.  I do like that.

 As with the original NSX the front has no usable luggage space, just gubbins.  Although this time there is no space saver spare  (you get a compressor and gunk)

Rear boot is no longer flat,  the salesman told me the bump was the battery, but it was such a small bump I hope he was wrong.  It could take some shopping but a hold bag for a plane, I don't think so. 

A glass screen separates the engine bay from the driver compartment.

What we found

- Cockpit is classic Honda and does not match the asking price.  Its functional but noting special
- The only boot is in the rear, there is no spare wheel - 3.5 litre petrol V6, rear wheel drive
- 9 speed DSG transmission
- 36 BHP (27KW) electric motor driving front wheels
- So potentially kind of 4 wheel drive == we like.
- Electric capacity: Not disclosed!  (I have the owners manual and it is missing.  Hmm) IEEE Spectrum say it is about 1KWh i.e. pathetic.
- If the 27KW motor and 1KWh battery are accurate then this battery will last an unimpressive 2 minutes.  Come on!
- Ability to drive on pure electric?  Not Disclosed.
- This is NOT a plug in hybrid, so you can only charge the batteries regeneratively or via the petrol engine.   Hmm. A bit rubbish!
- Made in the USA.  No comment.

With the above analysis you can see the NSX is merely using its puny battery as a momentary performance enhancer and Regenerative braking energy reclaimer.  This saddens me because the electric motor weight penalty and the increase of complexity of these electrics must be considerable.   As currently implemented with no plug in and tiny battery capacity I really think they have this design wrong. 


This is our first of 3 reports on the Geneva Motor Show.  Marcus and Agata had a great time.   The Honda NSX captured Marcus' heart but the price, well it's just too much, and as above it's Hybrid credentials are really rather flawed.

In terms of Petrol futures the Alpine A110 looks candidate but we will have to compare it against a current Audi TT RS 2017 spec.  Because the latter if similarly priced is more practical, faster and a safer pair of wheels.  At our age we'd prefer fast and reliable rather than oooh, what car is that mister?

We still did not see a sensibly small, 2 seater electric car,  or plug in hybrid that is a hatchback and is sporty.  You know something like a Honda CRZ on steroids.

The BMW i8 comes closest but the price is astronomical, actually close to the Audi R8

We think that Plug in Hybrids are the near future for manufacturers and that manufacturers should consider making smaller and therefore lighter and more performant electric cars of this genre.

Until buying an Electric car (in any of Performance or Utility or family sectors) can be justified as a reasonable business decision and not something to show off your Green credentials (to the unthinking) then we advise against it.