Up next:

Lokinen Geneva motor show 2009 blog

Published: 10 March 2009

Getting To Base Camp Thannon

It had all gone too well. Having failed to secure accommodation near the centre of Geneva, I’d easily managed to get an apartment in the same block as my two forum blogger colleagues, Robbie (1977) and Mark (car4mh). I’d also, purely by chance, managed to get a flight that landed ten minutes before Robby’s flight into Geneva which meant that we could jointly figure out the best way to get the 35k/m from the Airport to Thannon Le Bain, over the border in France and split the cost if necessary. The journey down to Bournemouth Airport went without hitch and as I sat sipping my Latte, waiting for my flight to be called, I looked forward to the next few days…

Then I got a text.” Sorry mate, been a bit of a T*T, tell you about it later but need to catch a later flight. Wont be there till after booking in time so can you collect mine and Marks room keys.”  Oh No!!

Landed in Geneva about 2pm and discovered a taxi to Thannon was a Hundred quid. The info desk at the airport advised that I catch a train to Central Geneva and then from the Bus station down at the lake, bus it straight to Thannon. Next bus ? Two hours time!!

After wandering around for ages looking for the Apartment block, I finally got into my room at 6.30pm. Robbie has text again and his flight is an hour late. He will be too late to get the last bus at 7.15 .I decide to nip out and grab some beers, then sit back watching a dubbed Patrick  Swayze  film and fall asleep. I wake with a start at 9.30pm. This isn’t good. The guys are still not here and in order to meet Tim Pollard and the guys at 7.30 am, we need to be on the 5.45am bus, back to Geneva.  I decide to go back down to the front entrance and wait out in the street. Within four minutes I spot a forlorn figure trudging up the street carrying two bags. As he gets near he says “I don’t suppose there is any chance at all that your name is Reg “…Hello Robbie!!
We head upstairs and have a beer and wonder about Mark. Robbie nips off to freshen up and we head back down in the lift to grab a bite to eat in the restaurant over the road. As we leave the lift we bump into Mark…..and he has a hire car. Result.

It’s Show Time

Next morning, and the plan is to hit the road at 6.15 which should get us into Geneva and in good time to meet Tim Pollard at 7.30. Robby ,who by the way had lost phone network somewhere after Birmingham Airport and only got it back once back in Blighty, had also forgot to put his phone clock forward an hour once in Switzerland and his alarm hadn’t gone off!! Finally hit the road at 6.30 and got the car parked at 7.45.

Heading towards the entrance where Tim will be waiting for us with TMS (Tim the comp winner from the web site) I spot a Giant of a man, he must be a least 8ft 14”…its George Kacher. I immediately remember and instantly dismiss Battys request re the Kacher bum. The two Tim’s are there waiting for us and we have a quick chat ,get our press passes and agree a time to meet later ,13.30 on the Rolls Royce stand. Tim then leaves us to our own devices, we decide to get a bit of breakfast and hit the first big press launches on the Audi and Bentley stands, having been too late for the VW polo launch. Time to have a quick chat to TMS who has driven over from the UK in an Audi 80 bought just for the trip, for £900. He is very keen to get into Motoring Journalism. He also loves Rover 75’s and p6’s…just like me!!

Upstairs and into the hall where Audi are situated, Mark disappears and TMS goes off to stash his jacket somewhere and we agree to meet him in 10 minutes on the Lotus stand…we never get there. Myself and Robby are like two 14 year olds in a naughty book shop, dashing from stand to stand, overwhelmed by the glitz and glamour. The Bentley press launch is at 09.30 and we get amongst the press camera crowd. The show begins and on the wall behind is a teaser of the front end of the new car currently hidden under a cover. Suddenly, music, lights, smoke, cover off and……oh it’s a white Continental. You could sense the disappointment, neither a clap nor a cheer and within minutes the press crowd had cleared more than enough for the digi camera brigade to get some snaps. What we had here was the 621 bhp continental super sports e85 bio fuel with some extra slots in the front and if you know your Bentleys, some wider rear arches. We moved swiftly on.

>> click next to continue reading Lokinen's blog

Next up is Audi at 09.45. Chairman Rupert stadler opens up proceedings and the theme for today is “Risk and opportunity” This is the Audi spin on trading in the current world economic crisis, The A4 Allroad is introduced to the crowd, but we already know about this. Smoke and mirrors time again as the new Audi TT RS is driven onto the stage by the famous racing driver that none of us knew and whose name still escapes. Later on even the Car guys couldn’t remember him. Next up a bright red A5 cabriolet with a bunch of guys sat on it drives out onto the stage. This is Audi’s piece of regular sports tie- up. The guys are all from top flight football. The only one I know is Wes brown from Manchester Utd. The whole point of the exercise is to launch an Audi sponsored Football competition during the summer called unsurprisingly, The Audi Cup. They do a bit of a drawer of four teams including Man Utd and Wes brown gets to say a few words .He was “obviously over the moon” to be there and really liked the A5, though I reckon a full roll cage might be a good idea for the Man Utd car park!!! 

We see a bit of a crowd gathering across the hall and arrive just in time for the unveiling of the new Spyker C8 Aileron. We are told that the theme of the car is very much jet aircraft .This is carried in the design of the alloy wheels and comically in the little imitation thunderbird 2 / 50’s American concept car jet pods carried in the lower sill and next to door handle.. We reckon there is a lot of Honda NSX (tail) and Ferrari 308 (door handle scoops) about the design. The chassis work was done by Lotus and a tie up with a cleaning products company resulted in a line of car care products specifically for this car, presented in a nice case. Torsional rigidity is claimed at 22NM. But what does that actually mean. Well it is stiff, if you imagine an average hatchback is about 9 or 10 NM then its doing well. The old 1964 BMC 1800 land crab though was a 25 Nm car and TMS’ Rover 75 is reckoned to be 24NM and that’s got a shell weakening four doors.

Roaming around, we spot a familiar, off the telly face preparing to do a piece to camera for his TV show. Robby knows who it is and asks ‘Mike’ for a photo. The camera lady takes the pic of them stood together. Robby says thanks and turns away leaving ‘Mike Brewer’ holding out his hand and shaking thin air. He did see the funny side, though he might have been less generous if he’d known that our Robster thought that it was actually Mike Rutherford!!

>> click next to continue reading Lokinen's blog

One of my show highlights was our next stop, the Lightning car co stand. Talking to one of their tech guys, this is an exciting project. Hopefully to be launched later this year at a price of £120k.This thing uses all electric power which comes from the latest Lithium Titanate Nanosafe batteries. These can re-charge completely using 3 phase electricity in 10 minutes. The drive comes from British company PMl Flightlink electric HI-PA drive hub motors each mounted behind a wheel. The combined power of these motors is about 700bhp giving about 5 sec to 60mph.The all important range of this car is about 220 miles with the batteries being topped up with re-generative braking. The next phase of development and launch of this car requires the company to secure more financial backing, so here’s fingers crossed.

Stopped in our tracks by the absolute horror of the show that is the Mansory stand. They are a German aftermarket tuning and visual upgrade company, specializing in upmarket cars. Apparently they started by upgrading British cars and are well known for their Bentley and Rolls Royce conversions. First Horror that caught our attention was a Porsche Cayenne that had been treated to what appeared to be a Matt carbon coating on all panels, nicely finished off by a Terracotta coloured semi Starsky and Hutch swash down each side. Also had some giant wheels and a different nose section. Next to this was a Matt bluey coloured  911 and finally  a Matt black Bentley GT with a cream leather interior with what looked like cream patent leather inserts…Ugh!! They did have a Veyron that to be honest looked ok with shiny black and Kevlar detailing. Isn’t the Veyron special enough then?

Had a quick whizz round the BMW stand just before we meet Tim and the lads at 13.30 for lunch. As Robby will mention, I nearly walked away with a rear window off the concept 5 series Pas GT thing. Having opened the rear door to check out the rear space I pushed against the glass when shutting the door and it very nearly fell to the floor. The German car minder was not very pleased!! Moving swiftly on once again, we meet the lads and see Ollie (Live4411) for the first time. Have a quick chat and decide I must have got it wrong about him being French…he’s clearly from Leicester.

Whilst struggling to order our lunch Ollie steps in and reminds us that he is indeed French and sorts our food out for us. We find a spot round the corner to sit and chill. The talk turns to Ollie’s next car purchase and we all try and persuade him to buy something that’s not French and unreliable…we fail.

With lunch done, it’s back to work and at first it’s hard to get back to the programme. Not for long though as we spot the new lotus Evora on a very quiet stand. Rob is really taken with this motor and seeks out somebody to find out more about the styling. He actually finds Paul Newsome who is Head of engineering. We chat for ages with Paul about the styling and also about technical aspects of the car. It’s clear that the quality of the Evora is a massive improvement over the Europa. It apparently takes 120 hours to build each Evora, compared with say 60 hours for VW Golf. Much of this is down to the fact that Lotus makes a large amount of the components themselves. Things like seats and steering wheels are made in-house and although they do buy in internal components and mechanisms, the outer parts, like mirror shells for instance, they make themselves. The Engines come from Toyota but are assembled by lotus. Interestingly, despite upping the power considerably from the standard engines 180 BHP to 270 and beyond, lotus don’t touch the bottom end at all and have had absolutely no reliability problems. They offer a large range of leather trim and exterior paint colour options but are happy to paint the car in whatever colour or combinations the customer wants.

>> click next to continue reading Lokinen's blog

Talking about Lotus in general, they are proud of the fact that they are probably the only car co in the country that isn’t on a short week due to the recession. Much of this is down to doing lots of work for other companies. I was surprised to hear for instance that they are flat out making loads of Tesla’s. They reckon that only 33% of their engineers are working on Lotus projects, the rest working on stuff for other companies. Mentioned alternative power development and this is something they are also into. They think that the Normal electric Hybrid is too inefficient, sometimes being less economical than normal petrol engine car. They reckon the way to go, whilst full electric power is still some time away, is serial Hybrid power. These hybrids use an engine to run a generator only, which in turn creates the electricity for the motor or motors. Obviously the small combustion engine is far easier to manage in respect of emissions and fuel usage when used in this sole role and operating permanently at its most efficient.

Time is starting to get away from us so In order to get to see as much as possible, quick hit and run tactics are required. Shame, because probably my favourite stand and range of cars of the show are the Weismann range. These fantastic cars  mix 50’s and 60’s British jaguar XK style with the latest German engineering  and a choice of six or eight cylinder BMW engines. There is a black one with questionable red bezels around its many instruments but another has the classic chrome bezels and looks fabulous. Zipped past the Koenigsegg electric concept that claims to have paint that makes the whole outer surface a giant solar panel. I do know that one of our lot asked if he could buy a tin….NO!

Another Electric/ hybrid, the lovely Fisker Karma. Now the thing about this lot is that they were claiming that when this car goes on sale it would cost approx £40k .Now its going to be £80-90K .Question the guys on the stand about this massive discrepancy and they will tell you that you are making it up, it was never going to be that cheap. Sorry guys but Ben Oliver in July 2008 edition of Car and I believe the Top Gear programme say that you are wrong.

It’s not far from 18.00 and time to meet the guys for a beer and a de-brief but just enough time to visit the Infiniti stand and a quick look at their new Essence concept that Robby will mention. We must get a look at the Renault stand before we go and in our haste get a bit lost, run back down the stairs and find it just in time. Really like the new Megane Renaultsport, not keen on the Facelift Clio. Robby being the Renaultsport man will be able to get back here tomorrow. Time now to find the lads but we can’t remember where we are to meet them. So whilst stood on the Toyota stand, Rob remembers he’s written it down…Six o’clock, Toyota stand!!! Over on the far side they are stood chatting and there’s a tousle haired guy in scruffy jeans hanging about who looks like someone’s camera man or even a palexpo maintenance sparky. Tim introduces me to Ben Pulman!! We head into a back bar for a beer on Tim. Have a quick chat with Ben about cars on the Car fleet that he manages and about bits of the show. The Car guys soon have to go, each having dinner dates with Car manufacturers. 

With our farewells done, Myself Mark and Robby head back to the car and find it nearly impossible to navigate our way out of Geneva. An Hour later we are finally on the right track but with still nearly an hours drive to go. After a freshen up it’s over to our little restaurant for a large sizzling steak and some bottles of a rather nice Peworth dark lager….and then bed. Next morning the boys drop me at the airport and that nice guy Mark (car4mh) has got for me and Robby a paper model Nissan Cube kit and an Aussie car mag .Nice one.

Tips for potential future reporter bloggers….Take the whole week off, make sure you can do two days at the show. You need the first day to get the hang of the place and you can really do some proper digging on the 2nd day. You really don’t want to be an hours travelling from the show, accommodation needs to be booked months in advance. Oh and if you do drive in, the car park is free all day till six pm. If you stay after six like we did, they charge you £12 for parking…Ouch!! 

Talking about Lotus in general, they are proud of the fact that they are probably the only car co in the country that isn’t on a short week due to the recession. Much of this is down to doing lots of work for other companies. I was surprised to hear for instance that they are flat out making loads of Tesla’s. They reckon that only 33% of their engineers are working on Lotus projects, the rest working on stuff for other companies. Mentioned alternative power development and this is something they are also into. They think that the Normal electric Hybrid is too inefficient, sometimes being less economical than normal petrol engine car. They reckon the way to go, whilst full electric power is still some time away, is serial Hybrid power. These hybrids use an engine to run a generator only, which in turn creates the electricity for the motor or motors. Obviously the small combustion engine is far easier to manage in respect of emissions and fuel usage when used in this sole role and operating permanently at its most efficient.

Time is starting to get away from us so In order to get to see as much as possible, quick hit and run tactics are required. Shame, because probably my favourite stand and range of cars of the show are the Weismann range. These fantastic cars  mix 50’s and 60’s British jaguar XK style with the latest German engineering  and a choice of six or eight cylinder BMW engines. There is a black one with questionable red bezels around its many instruments but another has the classic chrome bezels and looks fabulous. Zipped past the Koenigsegg electric concept that claims to have paint that makes the whole outer surface a giant solar panel. I do know that one of our lot asked if he could buy a tin….NO!

Another Electric/ hybrid, the lovely Fisker Karma. Now the thing about this lot is that they were claiming that when this car goes on sale it would cost approx £40k .Now its going to be £80-90K .Question the guys on the stand about this massive discrepancy and they will tell you that you are making it up, it was never going to be that cheap. Sorry guys but Ben Oliver in July 2008 edition of Car and I believe the Top Gear programme say that you are wrong.

It’s not far from 18.00 and time to meet the guys for a beer and a de-brief but just enough time to visit the Infiniti stand and a quick look at their new Essence concept that Robby will mention. We must get a look at the Renault stand before we go and in our haste get a bit lost, run back down the stairs and find it just in time. Really like the new Megane Renaultsport, not keen on the Facelift Clio. Robby being the Renaultsport man will be able to get back here tomorrow. Time now to find the lads but we can’t remember where we are to meet them. So whilst stood on the Toyota stand, Rob remembers he’s written it down…Six o’clock, Toyota stand!!! Over on the far side they are stood chatting and there’s a tousle haired guy in scruffy jeans hanging about who looks like someone’s camera man or even a palexpo maintenance sparky. Tim introduces me to Ben Pulman!! We head into a back bar for a beer on Tim. Have a quick chat with Ben about cars on the Car fleet that he manages and about bits of the show. The Car guys soon have to go, each having dinner dates with Car manufacturers. 

With our farewells done, Myself Mark and Robby head back to the car and find it nearly impossible to navigate our way out of Geneva. An Hour later we are finally on the right track but with still nearly an hours drive to go. After a freshen up it’s over to our little restaurant for a large sizzling steak and some bottles of a rather nice Peworth dark lager….and then bed. Next morning the boys drop me at the airport and that nice guy Mark (car4mh) has got for me and Robby a paper model Nissan Cube kit and an Aussie car mag .Nice one.

Tips for potential future reporter bloggers….Take the whole week off, make sure you can do two days at the show. You need the first day to get the hang of the place and you can really do some proper digging on the 2nd day. You really don’t want to be an hours travelling from the show, accommodation needs to be booked months in advance. Oh and if you do drive in, the car park is free all day till six pm. If you stay after six like we did, they charge you £12 for parking…Ouch!! 

By Lokinen

Comments