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Europe back in business at Geneva Motor Show

The first major European motor show of 2011, at Geneva in Switzerland, is packed with mouth watering newcomers in every size and price class. The top ended action is dominated by a supercar stoush between Ferrari and Lamborghini, but there is also everything from a new $15,500 Kia Rio - and a baby Picanto from the same company - to a second take on Toyota's make-or-break FT86 sports coupe and the Subaru version of the same machine.

Geneva is only a small show - at least compared to the giants at Frankfurt and Tokyo - but the 2011 even has a huge impact and reflects the renewed confidence among the world's carmakers.

They are spending big, on everything from dream machines through to new technology, as they gear up again for a showroom splurge after the doom and gloom of the Global Financial Crisis. There are close to 20 global firsts at Geneva, from the Audi A3 sedan to the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, all jostling for attention and mostly expected in Australia inside the next year.

The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback becomes a Holden later this year, Saab has just confirmed its plans for the 9-5 Estate, Mercedes-Benz will push hard with the droptop SLK and new C-Class coupe, and Citroen will push more style with the DS4 hatchback as the next of its DS design-
driven family.

But Geneva has always been a future show and this year's event is no different. There are more than a dozen concept cars, from the minimalist Mini Rocketman through to Volkswagen's battery-powered Kombi concept. Even Rolls-Royce is playing the future game at Geneva, unveiling a plug-in electric version of its $1 million-and-more Phantom flagship.

The Honda Jazz also gets the sparky treatment in Switzerland, just like a new Opel electric concept and BMW's 1 Series plug-in.  Geneva is a spring fling for carmakers but the impact will be felt quickly in showrooms around the world, including Australia, with much more to come as the electrification of the car business picks up pace.