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Sunday, 3 March, 2002, 19:34 GMT
Car industry goes to Geneva
BMW's CS1: one of the many concept cars on show
The 72nd Geneva Motor Show will host more than its fair share of flashy product launches this year, as the recession-bound industry chases fewer buyers with a growing variety of car shapes and styles.

The new Vectra, a high-performance Ferrari and weird and wonderful concept cars will be among models making their debut at the first motor show of the year.

Peugeot RC coupe
Peugeot's RC coupe looks more exciting than the 206
BMW will launch an extended version of its new, hi-tech seven series, Mercedes shows off its new CLK coupe and VW's Audi displays its top-of-the-range RS6 Avant.

Among concept cars are the Saab "cross-over coupe" 9-3X, Peugeot's two RC coupes, and BMW's CS1, which is described as a blueprint for the new 1-series expected to be launched in 2004.

The show opens on Tuesday with a press preview day, with the public being admitted from March 7-17.

Luxury beetle?

Europe's biggest car maker Volkswagen will showcase its new Phaeton model, a big limousine designed to challenge DaimlerChrysler's exclusive Mercedes Benz S-class.

Seat's high-performance Leon Cupra
Seat moves into the high-performance market with the Leon Cupra
VW is attempting to take the brand upmarket but critics say the Phaeton will compete directly against its Audi luxury unit.

Spanish subsidiary Seat will unveil its new Ibiza, which goes on sale in the UK in May, and the high-performance Leon Cupra R sports car which is due to reach UK showrooms in the late summer.

American comeback?

Ford and GM's European brands are both hoping for strong debuts as the American automakers struggle to make a profit in this competitive market.

Both have so-called "B" size vehicles targetting the European market for affordable, fuel-efficient, urban cars with more room for passengers and their luggage.

GM's Vauxhall and Adam Opel, its ailing German unit, will be hoping the new Vectra can revive their flagging image and shake off a reputation for dull cars.

One of the top-selling models in Europe, the Vectra, suffers from its reputation as a fleet vehicle. The longer and wider new Vectra goes on sale in the UK in June.

Ford will use Geneva to launch its Fusion "urban activity vehicle", a cross between a car and a sports utility, which is due to go on sale later this year.

Sporty shapes

Porsche, the world's most profitable car company, plans to launch a sports utility vehicle (SUV), the Cayenne, later this year but there is speculation it might get a show-stopping outing in Geneva.

Ferrari 575M Maranello
Ferrari's Maranello features racing gearbox and 5.75l engine
The new model has been critisied by some as a risky move for the racing car brand, while others see it as a clever way of offering Porsche owners the chance to buy a second model.

Meanwhile, the new 575M Maranello Ferrari, which goes on sale in the UK in summer, will be on display featuring a Formula One-style gearbox and 5.75 litre engine.

More models

The Citroen C8 people carrier makes its world debut and is longer, taller and wider than the Citroen Synergie, which it replaces.

Citroen C8
Citroen's C8: the successor to the Synergie
Peugeot 206 has already appeared as a sporty compact and a hard-top convertible and in Geneva an estate version, the 206sw, will be added to the family.

Daewoo will be showing off its five-door hatchback Kalos, which will compete with the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Peugeot 206 and which goes on sale in the UK next year.

Prof Garel Rhys, Cardiff University Business School
"Technically there are 34 new models at Geneva"
Prof Garel Rhys, Cardiff University Business School
"By...2050 it is clear that the Asian market in places like China will be the biggest... in the world"
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