GENEVA -- The air at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show was ... ahem ... electric (with concept cars, that is). From the bottom of the spectrum with the new Toyota Yaris hybrid, all the way to the top with the purely electric Rolls-Royce Phantom-based 102EX, not since the 1881 Exhibition of Electricity in Paris, which congregated electric technologists from all over the world, has so much wattage been on display.
And yet, it wasn’t just the electrically powered machines that had the crowd buzzing. Alternative fuels and unconventional propulsion systems have apparently taken deep root in the world’s automotive labs.
A four-wheel-drive Ferrari? Did you think you’d live to see the day? And who could have imagined a BMW that talks to inanimate objects?
The mood in Geneva was also decidedly upbeat, an indication that the auto industry has rebounded from the global economic downturn.
At least the major players are showing signs of health, judging from the money they’ve been spending on R&D. Pardon the pun, but if Geneva’s grab bag of tangible alternative-fuel, plug-in electric, and hybrid machinery indicates industry mood, the levity is almost shocking.