The green is in at this year’s Geneva Motor Show taking place from 6-16 March. In its 84th edition, the Salon international de l’auto as it is known in French, is a feast for those looking for zero-carbon mobility. For the first time, the seven finalists for the prestigious Car of the Year title included two models that are 100% electric: the sporty Tesla Model S and the BMW i3 city car. And, as I found out during my visit of the Geneva Motor Show this weekend, there’s plenty more to choose from as far as ‘green cars’ are concerned.
Tesla, of course, is the poster child for ‘glam-and-green’ mobility. Established in 2003 in Palo Alto, California, Tesla Motors has changed the way we look at electric cars forever. Tesla Roadster, initially targeted at celebrities and thought leaders, became the world’s first luxury electric car. Now Tesla is targeting a broader demographic with is new Model S, with the base price that is half of Roadster’s and, judging by the crowd in front of Tesla stand at the Show, these new arrivals would sell like hotcakes.
Now that Tesla has blazed the trail, other carmakers are jumping on the bandwagon. e’mobile, the Swiss association for electric and efficient vehicles, lists 37 electric and 31 hybrid cars in its 2014 Ecocars catalogue. This is a huge change compared to just a few years ago. According to Michel Jeanneret, the editor-in-chief of Swiss French-language weekly magazine L’Illustré, “We must acknowledge that in the last ten years the automobile industry has done a lot more than many others to respond to environmental imperatives. You only have to look at some of the innovations it has come up with – notably cars powered by alternative fuels – to realize this.”
One of the truly innovative cars that caught my eye was a Finnish concept car Biofore, designed and manufactured in partnership with Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The car showcases the use of next generation biomaterials: parts that are usually made out of plastic are replaced with two high-performing wood- and cellulose-based materials: UPM Grada and UPM Formi which have the potential to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of the automotive industry. Biofore drives on biofuel that is compatible with standard diesel engines.
My personal favourite at this year’s show, however, was another newcomer: QUANT e-Sportlimousine produced by the Liechtenstein-based energy company nanoFLOWCELL AG. Its futuristic design combined with zero emission, rechargeable energy storage system were enough to win me over. The car captures the energy of the ocean by running on salt water charged with electrolytes through a ground-breaking nanoFLOWCELL® technology. A quantum leap in eco-mobility indeed!
Now that the lovers of green cars are spoilt for choice, it is up to governments to provide them with adequate infrastructure – from roads to charging stations. After all, green-and-glam driving mustn’t be the stuff of dreams.