7 March 2014

Talking to the Irish at Geneva Show

As usual, there was a strong turn out of Irish motor trade people at Geneva, writes Trish Whelan. And those we met had plenty of information to divulge.

We first spoke to Stephen Gleeson (above)of Hyundai Ireland at the reveal of the Intrado Concept which could be a revolution on how to build a car. At the press conference we heard that the Intrado 'is far more than a styling exercise as this car is bout turning every journey into a rewarding experience'. Seems that Hyundai is passionate about becoming 'the most loved brand' and say they are ready to enter new market areas to to introduce new technologies. Their say their ambition to achieve a 5 percent market share by the end of the decade 'is now a reality'. We learnt that the Intrado can travel more than 600kms on a single tank, yet emits only water.

Stephen Gleeson expressed his delight over the launch of the new Genesis. "We should have first arrivals in Ireland in July-August. It will be a showcase for the technology that Hyundai which will be a showcase for the technology that Hyundai are are developing. It will be a flagship for us. Hyundai Europe are trying to fit a 2.0 diesel from the ix35 into it and if that can be done, then I could see us selling a significant quantity of them. If they put a diesel engine in it we will definitely do it in good numbers and our plan, if that happens, is to have one Genesis dealer in Dublin and one in Cork.

Jeanne McGann of Nissan Ireland said that the minor change Juke will arrive before the July 142 plate, and that X-Trail will be smack on for the July plate. It is built on the same platform as the Qashqai. Jeanne also said that their NV 200 will also go on sale here in July. She said a new C-segment hatch will be shown for the first time at the Paris Motor Show in September. "It will be a huge car for us, bringing us back into the mainstream C-segment where we haven't been since Almeira and Tiida." She said Qashqai is selling very well and there could be a waiting list, depending on the type of model a customer wants.

Peugeot were celebrating winning the 2014 European Car of the Year award with their new 308. Sales Manager Colin Sheridan said the award will be a huge boost for the brand and for its sales in Ireland. Peugeot's Managing Director Des Cannon believes there is a switch back to petrol cars. He said costs are now cheaper for the customer to change from diesel to petrol with no disadvantages, and quite similar annual road tax.

Ciaran Allen, Sales Manager Mercedes-Benz passenger cars said the new C-Class will arrive here in Ireland in May-June this year.

Laura Condron, Senior Brand & PR Manager, Opel Ireland is looking forward to the arrival of the Adam Rocks which she says is due by the end of this year. She was also very enthusiastic about the Astra Extreme concept which was the sexy highlight of the stand, and which might well be in production soon if the feedback from the show is positive.

We also met up with Gerard O'Farrell and Melanie McCourt of Jaguar Land Rover Ireland, who were very well taken by the F-Type R which gleamed in white on the Jaguar stand.

Jackie Lavin and Bill Cullen went along to take a look at the future ideas from SsangYong, as they have opened a SsangYong dealership at Bluebell. The XLV Concept was particularly interesting.

Conor Twomey, PR Manager of Fiat UK & Ireland, was really happy with the funky Jeep Renegade, which was a surprise launch at the show. The new 'baby' Jeep will make things tough for a number of competitors, especially Nissan's Juke which leads the segment across Europe.

Steve Tormey and Ian Corbett of Toyota Ireland were more than delighted with the response which the new Aygo was getting on a stand which featured the new car in a wide range of the customising trim options.

We also met up with show regulars James Brooks and Aidan Doyle of Kia Ireland, but they escaped our camera lens for once. They're looking forward, though, to the arrival of the new Kia Soul in the next few months.

We heard there was a contingent from Volkswagen Group Ireland, but failed to make contact. Ah well, you can't win them all.