2006 Geneva Motor Show Coverage by TCC Team (2/19/2006)
2006 Kia CarnivalEnlarge Photo
Korean automakers are pushing hard to go mainstream in the already crowded European market — in Kia’s case, for good reason. The automaker saw its global sales soar 22 percent last year, and 28 percent in Europe, which has become its largest overseas market. After a nearly $1.5 billion investment, Kia will launch production at its new plant in Slovakia at the end of the year, which will boost its capacity by 300,000 vehicles. The automaker will also add to its model lineup, starting with the new Carnival MPV — or minivan, in American terms. Measuring barely 15 feet nose-to-tail, it will nonetheless offer room for seven passengers. With Carnival’s SUV-influenced styling, and an assortment of safety features, including front, side, and curtain airbags, Kia hopes to quickly capture as much as ten percent of the European minivan segment. The Carnival comes to the U.S. this fall as a short-wheelbase Sedona. Along with the Carnival, Kia pulled the wraps off its updated Sorento SUV, adding a new 2.5-liter diesel to the powertrain options.
2006 Kia Ce'ed conceptEnlarge Photo
Meanwhile, the Ce’ed Concept vehicle offers a hint of what’s soon to come from the Korean carmaker. The C-segment challenger is a thinly disguised version of the hatchback that will roll off the new Slovakian assembly line later this year. The automaker believes it will connect with European consumers by offering sporty luxury features at a typically Korean price point.
2006 Mitsubishi Colt CZCEnlarge Photo
If Geneva show-goers felt a sense of déjà vu at the Mitsubishi stand, it was probably no surprise. The new CZC, the third member of the European Colt family, is essentially unchanged from the concept version that debuted a year ago in Switzerland. The 2+2 is the latest in a growing pantheon of hardtop convertibles, and is scheduled to go on sale this coming spring.
Mitsubishi Concept EZ-MIEV
2006 Mitsubishi Concept EZ-MIEV conceptEnlarge Photo
Mitsubishi had another show car this time around, though it’s less likely a production version of the Concept EZ-MIEV will be hitting showrooms anytime soon. The troubled automaker bills the prototype as an advanced research vehicle, and it is the first time the automaker has rolled out its In-Wheel Electric Vehicles, which rely on motors built into the wheel hubs. That permits each wheel to be driven or braked independently. It also eliminates the transmission, drive shaft, and differential, significantly reducing vehicle weight and complexity. All told the motors generate 110 hp, with power coming from a package of lithium-ion batteries tucked beneath the MPV’s floor. The MIEV also features drive-by-wire steering, with a steering wheel that can be retracted, letting the interior of the concept vehicle transform into a mobile lounge.
2006 Nissan Terranaut conceptEnlarge Photo