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  6. Electric vehicles electrify Geneva

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Electric vehicles electrify Geneva

In the middle of the exhibition hall there is a brightly colored yellow trailer connected to a vehicle. The trailer, full of batteries, is for charging electric cars. This is what it looks like, the new breakdown service of the Touring Club of Switzerland. So far, the breakdown service for electric vehicles has hardly been used, says one employee at the stand. But because more and more electric cars are coming onto the road, the club is going to purchase more trailers. The small example shows: The expansion of electric mobility is changing society – and is consequently one of the dominant topics at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.  

Volkswagen Group Components show the near-series design study of its flexible fast-charging station. With its compact dimensions, it can be installed wherever there is a need or no charging infrastructure.

Even at the start of the fair, CEO Herbert Diess made it clear that Volkswagen is convinced of the success of e-mobility. "We are on the verge of a fundamental system change, in which it is important to focus all forces on one goal," he said at the Group Night. "By 2025, every fourth car in the Group will be a clean electric vehicle." With the compact Volkswagen ID.*, the first electric car of a new generation will be launched this year.

Electric cars are the stars of Geneva, appearing on more and more exhibition stands. But it's not just new models that attract the public. After the vehicles, charging stations and wall boxes are among the most popular exhibits. "Do you have room?" a Swiss supplier asks the visitors. Those who say yes can hope for a free charging station in front of their restaurant or supermarket. In Hall 6, IONITY are providing information on its fast charging network along the main European transport routes. The joint venture of several car manufacturers is building 400 charging parks by 2020 so that e-car drivers can quickly gain additional range over long distances. Volkswagen Group Components showed its mobile quick-charging station.

ŠKODA CEO Bernhard Maier presents the KLEMENT two-wheeler electric concept.

Electric – that also means micromobility on two- or four-wheels. ŠKODA, for example, has developed the KLEMENT, an electric bike for urban traffic. The idea: maneuverable vehicles in densely populated metropolises, for example, should make the daily journey to work easier. "Micromobility is becoming increasingly important in cities," says Guido Haak, Head of Product Management at ŠKODA. With a wheel hub motor on the rear wheel, the study achieves up to 45 km/h. Two lithium-ion batteries are sufficient for a range of up to 62 kilometers. Just a few meters away, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is showing the CARGO e-BIKE, an electric load wheel that can transport up to 210 kilograms including the driver.

The SEAT Minimó stands for urban micromobility on four wheels. The electric two-seater takes up less than half the space of a conventional car and fits into any parking space. The battery is easy to swap. After a short stop, the vehicle has the full range of 100 kilometers at its disposal again, without having to be taken to a charging station. Luca de Meo, CEO of SEAT, says that this offers great cost advantages especially for carsharing companies.

Much larger than the Minimó, but just as extraordinary are the vehicles that will transport passengers fully autonomously in the future, i.e. without a human driver. From a distance, they look like oversized crates. The principle: large floor space, high walls, maximum space. Visitors sometimes search in vain for a driver's seat or steering wheel. A well-known car expert stands at one of the exhibits, sticks his head through the door and looks around on both sides. "Interesting thing, autonomous driving. You don't need a front or a rear anymore," he says.

A few stands further on, one of the exhibitors says that autonomous vehicles are first suitable for use in defined areas and at a manageable speed. A human companion will always be on board for the initial phase. Only when safety has been proven beyond doubt can passengers be entrusted to the self-propelled vehicle – after approval by the authorities.  

A year ago, the Pop.Up next, a "flying car", attracted attention in Geneva. In 2019, the trade fair will also be taking off from the ground and conquering the air: right next to the self-driving vehicles, the Dutch company PAL-V are presenting their model of an airplane car. The combination of driving and flying will bring "an unprecedented degree of freedom", promises chief engineer Mike Stekelenburg. Anyone interested can make an appointment. However, there is one prerequisite, says one employee at the stand: a pilot's license.