Connectivity, autonomous driving and hybridisation clearly emerge as the key themes when you walk through the Palexpo halls in Geneva, which hosts the 86th International Motor Show from 3 to 13 March 2016.
If cars are driving by themselves and making the most efficient use of fuel by combining thermal with electric power – insofar as they are not 100% electric, where is the fun in motoring? The Geneva concept cars show that we needn’t worry: the future is all the more exciting, in spite of electronics and electrics intervening.
First of all, the “autonomous” car as interpreted by the large carmakers is basically a regular car with automated responses, which can be switched off at will. Setting the next step in this area is Volvo with the sleek V90, which will also be one of the first cars to be offered without a physical key. It uses a smartphone app to unlock the doors, boot and even start the engine remotely.
Which brings us to the next theme: connectivity. Cars are evolving towards mobile lounges and offices, with onboard hotspots and advanced smartphone interfaces. The web allows interesting new features, as demonstrated by BMW’s Connected Drive, which now helps the driver find a suitable parking spot in the city through its On-Street Parking Information service.
Finally, electrifying the powertrain is definitely high on car constructor’s agenda. In (P)(H)EVs, batteries are ever more powerful and compact, extending their electric range and requiring less time to recharge. At the same time, they can be used in a smart grid to store electricity for domestic use, for instance. Another clear trend is the evolution towards 48V systems: constructors graft a small electric motor onto an existing ICE to improve its efficiency, as demonstrated by Renault’s hybrid dCi group scheduled for next year.
Image: VW Budd-e