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The Geneva Motor Show 2016; j’arrive, pour EVE

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Next week I attend the 86th Geneva International Motor Show. It is a short bus journey from my temporary residence in Chamonix, France. I go for the first time as official ‘press’, representing Eco Vehicle Exchange (EVE). The show runs 3-13 March at the Palexpo, by Geneva Airport. Some stories about the motor show are already in circulation of course. Press releases from marketing departments have been dropped, emailed, and tweeted. New electric cars from that manufacturer or this, new hybrids, new engine designs, new record-breaking specs. It is fascinating to see innovative product development using the latest, more efficient, cleaner technologies.

But surely after the Volkswagen emissions scandal and with ongoing investigations into other big car manufacturers, we have to be suspicious. The press needs to be sceptical and investigative. Marketeers need to be transparent and truthful. Everything needs to be analysed, questioned and validated, before its reported. Or promoted.

At EVE, we obviously love vehicles and transport. We wouldn’t do this otherwise. But we generally prefer lightweight, low-impact vehicles, and public transport. The automotive industry has always been much more ego than eco. We believe the very concept of a private car should be up for serious debate. It is the epitome of rampant consumerism and status in an unfair, highly divided society. It is also rampantly polluting, greedily consuming of urban space, and of course extremely dangerous (most specifically in terms of road traffic accidents). Can there ever be a safe, sustainable automotive industry? We don’t claim to know the answer to that question, but we do hope the industry becomes safer and more sustainable. Fortunately, Uber and the big tech companies are aggressively disrupting the current model. Bloggers on this site have accused the industry of actively blocking transformative change. The implication is that the industry is addicted to its current revenue streams, and highly resistant to change – which applies to most established industries.

Nevertheless, I have to admit I am excited about seeing the cars on display next week. No industry is perfect, because industries are populated and sustained by imperfect beings. Us. And most of us like travel. We need to travel for work, for pleasure, and to maintain family and social bonds. The automotive industry is at least beginning to change, and we can help it change faster, by making wiser, more informed choices when we buy. Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Volvo, Nissan and others still matter. And they are all doing relevant work. Innovators like Uber and Tesla are rebuilding business models and transforming the way we move. We may live in difficult times, but they are interesting times too. I look forward arriving at the show. And I look forward to reporting back. Watch this space.

EVE blogs from last year’s 85th Geneva International Motor Show: