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Auto Industry

Geneva Motor Show opens amid European sales crisis

The Geneva International Motor Show has opened its doors for the media, with the general public allowed in as of Thursday. The event is being held amid fears there will be no speedy rebound for Europe's troubled market.

With the first two days reserved for journalists, the Geneva International Motor Show kicked off on Tuesday. The 83rd edition features some 900 cars from the world's leading vehicle makers, but is overshadowed by a protracted sales crisis on the European market.

Last year, only 12 million cars were sold in the 27-member European Union, the lowest number registered in the bloc since 1995. And the new year hasn't got off to a better start either. Even Germany, as Western Europe's biggest car market, saw its sales shrink by 10.5 percent last month.

"The first months of the year have been marked by weak demand in Western Europe," Matthias Wissmann, head of the German Auto Federation, told reporters in Geneva.

Focus on other markets

The German luxury carmaker BMW reported its best start into a new year ever, however, selling 250,000 units in the first two months of 2013. Domestic rival Audi also announced rising sales, with both automakers compensating for sluggish sales in Europe by expanding heavily in growing markets such as China, Brazil and the US.

VW and BMW present super efficient cars

Once the show gets under way for the public on March 7, it will be the luxury market that will be on display most prominently, with Lamborghini's new multimillion-dollar Venevo just one of many examples of posh supercars.

Alternative modes of driving will also play a huge role during the show. The German automaker Volkswagen for instance is flaunting its hybrid XL1, which burns less than 1 liter of diesel per 100 kilometers (235 miles per gallon), has gull-wing doors, enclosed rear wheels and camera-based mirrors.

According to organizers, however, only about 10 percent of the cars on display in Geneva this year can be called environmentally friendly.

hg/mkg (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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