The most visually appealing cars of a motor show are obvisously the premium brands. The automotive industry is going through major shifts these days and will continue to do so for the coming five to ten years. So how are the premium brands holding up? After all, they are the ones that show as the latest in technology that will eventually trickle down to the ‘normal’ everyday cars.
1) Bugatti Chiron – Continuity or Dinosaur
Let’s start with Bugatti. The brand new Chiron is finally out, and I think it looks stunning. Sure, it looks similar to its predecessor, the Veyron, but that’s a good thing. I especially love the C-shaped side that forms a sort of frame from the roof around the door down to the side skirt. The Chiron is an evolution of the Veyron. It still has the massive W16, 8 litre gasoline engine in the back delivering 1’500 hp to all four wheels and it can speed up to 420 km/h. The last iteration of the Veyron, the Super Sport, produced 1’200 hp and got up to a top speed of 415 km/h. So you might say that the difference is not that big.
Yes and no. When Volkswagen Group bought the brand rights of Bugatti cars in 1998, they had to start from scratch: W16 engine, clutch that could endure the massive 1’250 Nm torque, paint, interior design and materials, customer experience and service – everything had to be created and everything was super expensive. As a matter of fact, Bugatti, hence Volkswagen Group, lost money on every single of the 450 Veyron they sold. Naturally, over the years, different version were built. A Veyron Super Sport cost about € 1.65 million and Volkswagen. I couldn’t find official numbers on their losses, but it’s estimated that they lost around € 4 to 5 million on each car they made. That’s insane!
Anyway, back to the new Chiron! This time, Bugatti wants to make profit on it. They want to build 500 of it and sell them for € 2.4 million each. That’s more like it! But look at this: The Veyron was made between 2005 and 2015. Many motoring journalist ended up stating that it was the last hurray of the 20th century type gas guzzling supercar. Now the Chiron is here and it’s basically the same thing in a new dress. Don’t get me wrong, the engineers for sure put a lot of effort in it, but it’s still a conventional fuel powered W16 engine – not electric, not hybrid, not autonomous. Let’s say the planned 500 cars will be sold over the coming ten years, so all the way up to 2026. With the car industry trending towards new modes of propulsions, as well as the fast development of connectivity and autonomous driving, the Chiron will still be an engineering marvel, but also obsolete. It’s like keeping developing the best typewriter ever, while everybody is on laptops already.
2) Porsche – Top Marketing
One of Porsche‘s new presentations was the redesigned Boxster. It’s not called the 981 anymore, but the 718 Boxster. Why? Simply because they ditched to flat 6 boxer engine and replaced it with a flat 4 boxer unit. What a scandal, what a disgrace, how dare they do that?!!! That’s what every hardcore Porsche fan must have thought when they got the news. Let’s face the facts: Everyone needs to adapt to continuously stricter emission rules. At the same time, they new engines produce much more power that the ones they replace:
- 718 Boxster: 300 hp (2l) VS 981 Boxster: 265 hp (2.7l)
- 718 Boxster S: 350 hp (2.5l) VS 981 Boxster S: 315 hp (3.4l)
Isn’t that just insane! Porsche are smart. They usually acknowledge the trends of the industry and find a way to connect it to the past, to make it look like they’re getting even closer to the roots of the respective car. That’s why they renamed it the 718 Boxster. The original 718 was a racing version evolution of the 550. And guess what, it had a flat 4 engine in it as well. The point of this is to trigger the right emotions in the heads of the potential buyers. Although the new engines have more power than the outgoing ones, the reduction of cylinders as well as the smaller displacement could have a negative effect on them. Telling you that it has never been as sporty as that and that it’s now linked to a Porsche legend is what changes everything! Good luck keeping up with the demand, Porsche. 🙂
3) Jaguar – Powerful, more powerful, ridiculously powerful
Jaguar didnt’ bring all that many new models to Geneva. All wheel drive (AWD) in now available across the entire range. The oldest model is the XJ, which got a facelift in 2015. All in all, a very fresh and revatelized brand. Models like the XE and XF will probably sell well, especially the AWD diesel versions. The Sportbrake (estate / station wagon) are not yet out, but they will probably generate even more volume.
The only real new model Jaguar brought to Geneva is the F-Type SVR, available as both, coupé and convertible. It’s the first SVR super sports car of many more to come out of Jaguar Land Rover. The same awesome sounding 5.0l V8 engine we have known for a couple of years now is producing 575 hp, accelerating from 0-100 km/h in 3.7s and getting up to a top speed of 322 km/h. As a matter of fact, Jaguar Land Rover is ditching the “R” models and instead is making extra powerful performace cars in their freshly built Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) facility near Coventry. You can look at it like the AMG division of Mercedes-Benz.
I know the F-Pace had its premiere last year in Frankfurt, but because it’s Jaguar’s first ever SUV and because they normally have Land Rover within the same group to focus on SUVs only, this is a big step for Jaguar. No car manufacturer who wants to sell big numbers can afford not to have an SUV in its model range. I’m not a fan of SUVs althogether. Granted, there are a few I’m okay with, like the Range Rover, but only because it started life as a real off road vehicle and it still can. People don’t necessarily want an SUV because they want to drive in the mud, they just want to sit a bit higher than in a sedan and be able to get in and out more easily. Mayby we’ll all drive SUVs only in the near future – or should I say we will let ourselves drive by our autonomous capsules. 🙂
4) Aston Martin – Genesis of a new design language
Aston Martin, a byword for James Bond – British Secret Service, gentlemen, refined GT cars. With the launch of the DB9 in 2004, Aston Martin had finally gotten rid of the old school image of the DB7 and all new, modern era was heralded. Over the years, the entire model range was updated and all of the Aston Martin cars were given the new face. Time moved on and that new face became middle aged itself. Now, with the brand new DB9 successor, the DB11, Aston Martin has found its new design language! I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so I’ll simply let you judge by yourself. Check out the DB11 in the video below.
5) Tesla – Gimme more models
Tesla Motors started its life with the Roadster, which was based on the Lotus Elise S2. Then in 2012, the first 100% Tesla developed car was delivered. Worldwide expansion of Importers, dealers and most importantly, Supercharger stations has grown significantly. And now that all the early adapters have put their hands on a Model S, it is time for Tesla to move up and expand their model range. Now we also have the much anticipated SUV called the Model X. Although retail customers had to wait until late 2015 instead of 2014, the X with its gullwing back doors is now here. The car that will probably make Tesla Motors profitable in the mid term is the hugely anticipated Model 3, which is a 20% smaller sedan than the Model S. It will be unveiled on 31 March 2016 and deliveries are scheduled to start in late 2017.
Tesla is without a doubt the symbol of the car industry of the future, with the exception that they are already here! Electric, connected, autonomous, self updating, almost maintenance free cars. The automobile industry is going through a massive paradigm shift and the small company of Palo Alto California, which ten years ago was almost nowhere, is pushing hard to lead the next evolution of personal transport.