The circus leaves town

by Andy Bryenton

Zealous Swiss health officials may have put an end to this year’s Geneva motor show by banning gatherings of 1,000 people or more for fears of Covid-19 infection, but the message of the event still rings out, with more of an infectious sales pitch than any virus ever had.

‘Electric is here to dominate’; that’s the word from a collection of the top exhibits at the cancelled show, which have gone on to individual releases.

From an electric reimagining of the tiny, door-in-front Isetta bubble car of the postwar era, through to a sleek 1,900 horsepower monster from design house Pininfarina, all take advantage of new battery and electric motor technology, pushing and pulling the concept in new directions.

Take the Pininfarina Battista, for example. Not only can it generate fighter plane acceleration (0–100kp/h in less than two seconds), it can also travel more than 300 miles to a single charge. Potentially, it could get there in less than two hours with time to spare. At the other end of the line is the new Fiat 500 all-electric city car. A relentlessly cute and stylish small vehicle, which opts for quick charging and lower speeds, but also some uber-fashionable options by the likes of Bulgari and Armani.

Care to split the difference? How about the Gemera, Koenigsegg’s first even four-seater GT supercar. It’s got three (count them) hybrid engines to achieve 400kp/h with four full-sized adults on board, all of whom, we assume, would be hanging onto the plush upholstery for dear life. A more workable merger of style, range and power come from BMW, who have revealed a stunning gold i4 prototype.

Said to be a frontrunner for production models, which will grace the forecourts from next year on, there are some purists who might argue with its more outre styling choices (like that outsized grille and a rear end that has a bit of the old Chris Bangle squareness to it). However, few can fault the quoted figures of more than 500 hp and a range of 600 kilometres.

So, while the grand Geneva circus big top has shut down, the wild animals, quirky clowns and thrilling high-wire acts are still very much in evidence.

Predictions that the electric future of motoring would be boring and one-dimensional look like they were far off the mark.