2005 Geneva Motor Show, Part IV

March 1, 2005

2005 Geneva Motor Show Index by TCC Team (2/28/2005)


GM’s Big Tease

Anyone who has visited Europe knows that folks on the continent can be a lot more relaxed about things libidinous. But even in a town with a well-established red-light district, eyes were being raised by the unexplained billboards popping up. “Tame Me,” declared one, “Admire Me,” added another, well others asked to be challenged and teased. The question was, who or what were they promoting? The answer came when Fritz Henderson, head of General Motors of Europe, took to the stage at Geneva Motor Show. It was all part of a campaign to convince reluctant buyers to try out the automaker’s products through a free, three-day test drive program.





2005 Fiat Croma

2005 Fiat Croma

Fiat Croma

After more than a decade’s absence, Fiat revives the Croma nameplate, but the model unveiled in Geneva this week is notably different from the medium-sized model marketed between 1985 and 1994. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro’s ItalDesign, the new Croma is a small but roomy minivan — multi-purpose vehicle, in Euro-terminology — with which the company claims it “is trying to do something new in a very traditional segment,” a company spokesman said. The mini-MPV will be offered with a choice of five engines, as well as a new six-speed transmission. Reflecting current European trends, three of them are diesels, including a 2.4-liter turbocharged unit making 200 horsepower.


Rolls Stays Dry

2005 Rolls-Royce Phantom

2005 Rolls-Royce Phantom

Troubling, those British drizzles. No wonder some engineer at Rolls-Royce got the creative idea of stowing an umbrella inside the Rolls-Royce Phantom. More precisely, inside the door, in a special, air-dried tube that can be accessed when the rear doors open. Problem is, with the original Phantom, the umbrellas were a bit shorter than normal.  So what about with the stretched version of the big sedan, introduced in Geneva? “That’s a really good question,” acknowledged the automaker’s worldwide sales and marketing chief, Howard Mosher. “We hadn’t thought of that. Maybe it’s time to see if we can squeeze in something bigger now.”


Minister Without A Portfolio

The Geneva show has always been known as a place where you could spot all the current, former — and future — stars of the auto industry, and this year was no exception, with industry executives like Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Italian design legend Sergio Pininfarina, and others wandering around and visiting one another’s displays. The list included three generations of Volkswagen CEOs, starting with Carl Hahn and winding up with current chief Bernd Pischetsrieder. Recently retired chief executive Ferdinand Piech made it clear he remains an active VW board member, and was seen mostly at the automaker’s own displays using a small card to test how well the various products were put together. He was heard complaining several times when interior gaps were larger than he liked. Also seen wandering the halls was Wolfgang Bernhard, the former DaimlerChrysler exec who signed on with VW last year and will eventually become head of the flagship Volkswagen division. After losing about ten pounds, the already trim Bernhard was in fine shape, but unwilling to say much about his new job. “All I’m doing right now is learning the company,” he insisted, reminding anyone who asked that he officially started only last month.

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