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Geneva motor show trend barometer

Electric, hybrid and range-extender technology is everywhere at Geneva.

This year’s Geneva show includes about 180 new car debuts, and the line-up certainly hasn’t disappointed us.

A delicious parade of top-shelf exotics and concepts will hog the spotlight of course: the stunning Lamborghini Aventador J, the Volkswagen-linked Giugiaro Brivido, the Infinti Emerg-E, the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta will all fight for attention.

But in the face of economies across Europe struggling – in some cases stumbling towards a crash – it’s clear from the unveilings that there’s a strong move towards downsizing.

Skoda’s Citigo, Volkwagen’s Up and even the Volvo V40 are all practical takes on a smaller and leaner world.

But the SUVs still get a look-in, with the likes of Mitsubishi flagging their plug-in Outlander, Nissan’s Hi-Cross clearly hinting at the next X-Trail – although they won’t come right out and say it.

And Bentley proving yet again that money doesn’t even need to buy style and taste with the ugliest thing on wheels since … possibly ever.

Electric, hybrid and range-extender technology is everywhere at Geneva, showing that - in Europe at least – it has long moved past being some kind of geeky indulgence. Every carmaker is talking economy and value. And there’s a lot more chatter about global platforms, with VW taking it to a planned one-size-fits-all extreme.

What does it mean for the buyer? At the very least, while our economy looks pretty healthy here, the disasters elsewhere are having a strong impact on industry attitudes, and that means carmakers are going to try harder than ever to win over our wallets.

Expect to see leaner cars, smarter cars and – faced with increasing competition from emerging industrial giants like China and India – better value cars. That’s good news for all of us.