Any automobile show has certain themes running through it - fashions and trends, whether good or bad - and the 2015 Geneva Motor Show is no exception. Fitting into that are a number of things which defy explanation, "odds and sods" I would call them. Here are some of this year's picks...
A two-tone Rolls-Royce with a jellyfish movie for a background - eye catching perhaps, but what a bunch of floating Medusozoa bring to the brand is hard to fathom. Buy this car and you will get stung? Perhaps it sounded better on the Wednesday Morning Geneva Salon Brainstorming Session than in the cold light of day. It is, however, typical of the strange thought patterns that large auto shows promote among normally rational marketers and auto manufacturers.
The Aston Martin Vulcan made plenty of waves at this year's Salon, but for me, it has no elegance or true Aston Martin styling - and then there are the tail lights. However, I doubt that opinion will cause any lost sleep in Gaydon - but I was not alone in my thoughts on this special vehicle, several observers expressed similar sentiments... but automotive journalists are hardly the target market. Anyone acquiring one of these rockets will get a ride to remember... at a price.
If I sound a little pursed-lipped at the Vulcan, this thing, it might be classified as a car, but is much harder to understand. The ED Torq is a self-driving racing car, or SDRC. It is based on a typical open-wheel racing car suspension, and features a aerodynamic body. It's power comes from four electric motors, one for each wheel.
There is apparently a cockpit for a driver who would see the world, and in particular the track, through cameras and they would receive assistance from an autonomous driver. It was not clear from the display how all this would work. Many of us observers already think that some drivers behave like robots, especially when parroting PR vanilla - so watching a grid of said robots "racing" each other might be challenging, even inducing spells of narcolepsy.
One other oddity on the stand with the ED Torq was the presence of a tall (well over six foot) model clad in a vinyl one-piece jump suit, she was also wearing six inch platform boots. The whole effect was to remind me of a 70's or 80's low-budget Sci-Fi film, where in the dystopian future such machines and people would thrive. This stand got my personal Best in Show - Weirdness Award.
Another candidate for that honour was EDAG Light Cocoon. It's a concept that employs the latest 3D printing technology, and in actuality is a little unfair to compare with something as pointless as a self-driving racing car.
Reportedly using bat wings and leaves as an inspiration, the designers have commissioned outdoor clothing specialists Jack Wolfskin to create a lightweight weatherproof textile fabric. This is stretched over the 3D-printed skeletal-like frame as a membrane and is claimed to have the same strength and rigidity of a conventionally built car.
The advantages are not just confined to the low weight, though at 19 grams per square metre that gain is substantial. Any damage or repairs require no paint and would be much cheaper to perform. The colours of the car are produced by LEDs under the skin, though constant colour changes might drive other road users mad after a while.
There you have it, Geneva's oddities. Aside from the "Hyper" best from the Salon, here are a couple of my favorites... from Touring Superleggera.