Geneva International Motor Show in Qatar: Car companies are accelerating their plans to expand and go green
In this episode of Qatar 365, we gear up for the largest car show in the Middle East and hear from the car companies that are leading the way towards a greener future.
The Geneva International Motor Show (GIMS) has been showcasing the latest trends in the automotive industry since 1905. This year, for the first time in its history, it was held outside Switzerland with Qatar stepping up to host the event.
Ten global premieres, 20 regional reveals, and 30 famous car manufacturers, all under one roof. Whether you’re a car buyer, collector or enthusiast, GIMS is widely considered the most important car show in Europe. Now, in its first foray into the Middle East, organizers hope that GIMS Qatar will soon become the region’s most important motor show.
Berthold Trinkel, Chief Operating Officer of Qatar Tourism Authority, said: “This is amazing: ten new cars that have never been seen anywhere in the world. This does not happen in Detroit, it does not happen in Frankfurt, it does not happen in Paris or Tokyo.”
GIMS attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year. The first motor show was held in Geneva in 1905, and by the 1950s, the show attracted some of the biggest brands from the UK and US. After arriving in Qatar this year, the exhibition has come a long way.
“For us, the first challenge was to organize a decentralized exhibition – what we call a festival,” said Sandro Mesquita, CEO of the Geneva International Motor Show. “Because the beating heart is here in the halls of the motor show but we are also present at the Lusail Track, we are present in the desert, on Lusail Boulevard. So, we wanted to create an experience with stability, but also with dynamic displays.”
“The Middle East for us fits perfectly because the Arab culture in the Middle East is about family and relationships. We are a lifestyle brand, a family brand and this fits perfectly with the Arab culture,” explained Matthias Ziegler, Managing Director. Volkswagen Middle East.
From one famous German brand to another; Mercedes-Benz has presented several regional reveals in Qatar, ranging from traditional combustion engines to electric cars.
“For Mercedes-Benz, it is about bringing luxury and sustainability because that is what we believe in the future of luxury,” said Sylvain Govender, Sales Director, Mercedes-Benz Middle East and Africa.
“We’re focused on building desirable cars. We’re focused on cutting-edge growth in the luxury markets and that’s the luxury area.”
This is not the end of the road for GIMS Qatar. The exhibition will return to Doha every two years, coinciding with the Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix.
“For us, it was great to have a global partner, a global brand and their expertise,” said Berthold Trinkel. “So I think partnering with Geneva was a very smart choice. They’re similar in look and feel and professionalism. That’s what makes them so special.”
Need for Speed at Losail International Circuit
Losail International Circuit is the home of all things motorsport in Qatar. After hosting another exciting edition of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Qatar, the circuit is preparing to host the motorcycle racing equivalent, the MotoGP.
We spoke with Amr Al Hamad, CEO of Losail International Circuit, to get his insight on what it takes to keep up with the world’s leading race tracks.
He told Qatar 365: “It has been really exciting to welcome everyone to our new facility. I can’t say it has been renovated. I would say it is a brand new facility, and we have broken some records here.” “One of them was actually building the facility or getting the facility ready to host a Formula 1 race in record time. We had a huge attendance – 126,000 people over three days, compared to 15,000 people a day in 2021. So, if that tells us anything, it tells us Just how motorsport has now become a popular sport or a truly must-see event in Qatar.”
Amr explained that this is just the beginning of the beginning of successive events at the Losail International Circuit.
“We have just finished Formula 1 2023, and after that, we have the MotoGP Championship which will be held (from) November 17-19, 2023, followed by the Middle East and North Africa Karting Championship which will be held in December. And then we move on to 2024. We have the introduction of the World Endurance Championship Then the first round of the championship, then we follow it again with the MotoGP World Championship in March.”
This year, the Geneva International Motor Show was held at the same time as the Formula 1 show. Amr Al-Hamad told Qatar 365 that this combination boosted motorsport and the automotive industry in Qatar as a whole.
“Having the Geneva International Motor Show in Qatar alongside the Formula 1 race being held here, has made it a festival of motorsport, more than just two separate events, and they have really complemented each other. We have seen a lot of interest and a lot of people’s keenness to Actually getting into motorsport. We will be holding this festival for the next 10 years.”
Qatar is a country of motorsport, from Formula 1 to motorcycles, to the Qatar International Rally, off-road and karting championships. We asked Amr Al-Hamad what is driving this interest and need for speed.
“Our whole idea now is to actually promote motorsport. We need to see younger people now looking to be part of our motorsport journey, and bringing all these international events to Qatar helps tap into or reach that goal. “
Amr, a former endurance racing driver, explained that he remains a thrill seeker and a strong leader to this day.
“I was involved in motorsport and it was my ambition to end up doing a job like I do now. I always tell people I’m not doing a job, I’m just doing what I love every day. “I’m enjoying doing it now, I haven’t stopped motorsport the cars. “I take advantage of every opportunity to get out in the car or on the track, and most of the time now I do motocross and enduro.”
A “once in a lifetime” road trip: 8,000 kilometers in a Volkswagen ID Buzz
Electric cars have become a prominent feature at car shows around the world. In fact, electric vehicle sales are expected to grow 16% annually between now and 2035.
Frank Rinderknecht is CEO of Rinspeed AG. He recently led two crews on a road trip from Geneva to Doha in two fully electric Volkswagen ID Buzz cars, pushing the boundaries of electric mobility.
The brutal journey took 34 days, crossed twelve countries and covered 8,000 kilometres.
“There were many challenges, many problems to overcome,” Frank Rinderknecht admitted. “It was an emotional trip, full of excitement, full of amazing people to meet, and to see extraordinary landscapes. So, it was intense and in a way, maybe once in a lifetime.”
This historic event saw Frank and his team be the first to cross the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from west to east in electric cars. The ride was not only a display of pioneering spirit, but also a resounding success for innovation and electric vehicles.
“We need to move away from fossil energies to renewable energies. This step in thinking is really a big step towards that goal, not just to consume it and then evaporate it into the air, but to make it a circular industry,” Frank told Qatar 365.
The Volkswagen ID Buzz may seem a bit bulky for a long cross-country trip, but it was the obvious choice for the Tour d’Excellence.
“The ID Buzz is like an iconic car,” Frank added. “It’s from the 1970s, a utility vehicle. And we need that space, we need space for spare tires and vehicle inspections and all kinds of different things.” .
What is driving the industry towards a greener future?
From pickup trucks to cars and even buses like these, electric vehicles are a big feature here at the Geneva International Motor Show. Qatar’s Mowasalat has unveiled a minibus that is not only fully electric but also driverless.
The buses represent another step in the partnership between Mowasalat and the Chinese company Yutong to promote the use of electric buses to the public.
Meanwhile, new and rising EV brands such as Lucid, VinFast and Exeed have also unveiled new models, sharpening the competition in an increasingly crowded race. Another brand looking to expand its reach in the Middle East is Lynk & Co.
“Our flagship model Lynk & Co 09 is a seven-seater SUV. So, in the GCC region, I think this car will be a huge success,” said Derek Peng, Head of Design at Lynk & Co. Asia Pacific Marketing at Lynk & Co.
To help them capture the Qatari market, Lynk & Co is collaborating with the Qatari NBK Group and Auto Class Cars. The reputed dealers have decades of experience distributing prestigious brands such as Mercedes and Harley Davidson.
“Lynk & Co is more than just a car. For us, Lynk & Co was not just adding another brand to our portfolio, even though there are a lot of competitors in the market. So, we wanted to have something different. This is about “Connectivity and communication between East and West,” explained Ahmed Firozi, Marketing Director at Auto Class Cars.
As more companies accelerate their expansion plans and go green, Frank and his team are all ready for their next adventure.
“On our list, we have Patagonia, the south of South America. We don’t know yet if we can do this trip electric or in a regular car. But again, what’s important is to dream, and dreaming is a great thing.” Frank Rinderknecht concluded.
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