While I’m certainly bummed I cancelled my annual pilgrimage to Geneva this year, I have no less enthusiasm for what is in store. CES is always getting the attention these days with all the fantastical yet-to-be-actually-built futures of transportation by the usual suspects and upstarts, but Geneva is where the talk becomes the walk.
This year, I expect we’ll see two breakouts that will become pivotal moments for two of my favorite and most closely watched brands.
The I-Pace, or the ‘Ian Callum and Friends Special’ as I would rather refer to it as, is as flamboyant and punch-in-the-mouth as is possible for the tight Brits, but it is undoubtedly the most convincing step any lux maker has taken to go head-to-head with Tesla. This car is in the sweet spot of the small SUV market and puts up convincing figures in terms of battery and performance. It also follows Jag’s sultry newish design language (thank God), which I could not be more happy about given the design amnesia that seems to plague every carmaker when they attempt to make an EV (see Leaf, Bolt, Volt, and pretty much everything else).
Volvo, another post-Ford darling, is making huge gains across a number of areas as it achieves astounding growth in Europe, China, and America. Nowhere is this continued momentum more apparent than in the forthcoming Polestar 1 – Volvo’s first full EV with 600 hp and a battery to rival anyone’s. Besides taking the latest Volvo design style to the next level, moving Polestar from an unknown AMG/M badge wannabe to the full-fledge landmark of Volvo’s electric future is mind-blowingly shrewd. The only other company that attempted a similar step was BMW who made the i8 as its performance EV flagship, but then ruined it all with the i3.
As the real world gathers in Geneva this week, all eyes will and should be on Jaguar and Volvo as these two companies are pioneering the electric future that starts this year, not some distant year in the ‘mid to late 2020s’ that CES pundits gloss over. This is the real deal, and I expect this show to be a pivotal moment for both of these brands.
Other must-sees if you’re there include:
Aston Martin Vantage – the poor man’s Aston finally gets the upgrade it rightly deserves, and while it gracefully bows to the DB11, it in no way is a knock-off. This car is perhaps Andy Palmer’s most important creation since taking the helm of the company in somewhat-dire straits just a few years ago. This car only makes my mouth water even more for the new top-line Vanquish that I will hopefully see at next year’s show.
Mercedes Maybach Vision 6 – this might be the most beautifully insane concept car I’ve ever seen, and bodes extremely well for Daimler if designs are going to start taking a nod to the likes of this. Unfortunately, most of what I see coming out of Stuttgart looks more like a Dodge Challenger than this beauty, but hopefully that doesn’t last long.