Corporate

My first trip to Geneva-2 March 18th, 2011

Today I will give you an account of the highlight of the Geneva Motor Show. I will focus on the Kia Motors press conference and an interview with the designer of our hero car – the all-new Rio.

The Kia Motors press conference was scheduled for 15:45 ~ 16:00, and to get a good spot I had to wait from 15:00. I could feel the media’s burning interest in the all-new Rio and Picanto which were making debuts at the show.

3:45 pm sharp! The Kia Motors press conference started with many journalists in attendance. Kia Vice Chairman Hyoung-Keun Lee gave a corporate overview speech and then Paul Philpott, COO of Kia Motors Europe, delivered his introduction of the Rio and Picanto, followed by the photo time.

I am pretty sure that most of you Kia BUZZ readers have seen the video of the press conference, but here it is for those of you who haven’t.

After the speeches were over, I talked with other reporters, and learned that they were very interested in Picanto, but also that they were particularly interested in Rio. They said its design can stack up to that of European competitors.

I also met with Massimo Frascella (Kia Design Center America), who designed the exterior of the Rio. Let’s take a look.

A brief stay at the motor show allowed me to get a feel for a few current trends in the automobile industry.

I will summarize them here.

First is the diversification of green cars. Typically, Toyota’s Prius hybrid car had been the brand’s representative green vehicle, but at this show Toyota showcased various new green cars like the Prius PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle), IQ EV and Highlander FCELL to gauge market reaction.

On a personal note, it was quite interesting that even Rolls Royce, the ultimate luxury car brand, showcased its 10EX in line with the green car fever.

Kia meanwhile displayed our environment-friendly technology with the Optima Hybrid, all-new Picanto low CO2 (90g), and all-new Rio low CO2 (85g, the lowest CO2 emission).

The second clear trend was the downsizing of powertrains.

In recent years, to cope with high oil prices due to the current Middle East situation, I could see that car makers are developing and applying new, smaller powertrains for high fuel efficiency and low CO2, with high-performance taking a backseat.

Typical examples were the BMW X1, which comes with the a 2.0-liter turbo engine (242 horsepower) replacing the existing 3.0-liter gasoline engine (258 horsepower), and Fiat 500, which featured a 2-cylinder 0.9-liter turbo engine (65 horsepower) which replaces a 4-cylinder 1.2liter gasoline engine (69 horsepower).

Kia also introduced a 1.0-liter Kappa turbo engine, which boasts improved output and fuel efficiency while retaining a relatively small displacement.

Lastly, what caught my eye was the reinforced small and medium-sized lineup of luxury brands. In Europe, the A, B and C segments have been very popular, and as high-end products are also popular in the small-size segment, premium brands are seeking to make further improvements. In particular, Audi revealed the 4-door premium A3 compact concept car based on the A3 hatchback. Its single frame grille is more aggressive than that of the current A3 hatchback and its roof line reminds us of a coupe. It was quite impressive. Particularly, when it comes to engine performance, the 2.5 gasoline turbo engine boasts 408 horsepower.

Since the Geneva Motor Show is the first large-scale motor show of the year in Europe, I have a hunch that these trends will continue at various motor shows that will be held this year.

Well, that wraps up the postscript to my first stint at the Geneva Motor Show, and I promise you that I will be back with more interesting stories.

Thank you.