As if I was not already excited about attending the Geneva Auto Show this week, elements of the journey itself have been “illuminating.” After an uneventful flight from LA to Amsterdam, I was pleased to be sat near two automotive industry executives that are considered by many to be near the top of their professions. One works on the creative design side of the business, and the other heads up a very large dealer group that sells millions of cars every year in the U.S.
As it was approaching 4 AM according to my stuck in Pacific Standard Time internal clock, I leaned my chair back and closed my eyes, but the conversation was too good to allow a car guy like me to sleep. The dealer chief proudly told the designed that he was taking delivery of his brand new Lexus LFA sports car in a few weeks, and added that Toyota is subsidizing the cost of producing this car to the tune of $1.1 million dollars after the retail price of $375,000 is considered. And they are making approximately 20 per month until a target of 500 is reached. But first he has to regretfully sell his Nissan GT-R to make room in his presumably wonderful garage.
The conversation then lurched to the impact of the up and coming Chinese manufacturers and when we will feel their impact in the American market. According to one of the gentlemen, a recent conversation with the Chairman of BYD uncovered details that he employs over 15,000 engineers in China. And that is just at one car company, When the Chinese get their safety, design, reliability and refinement up to current Import and Domestic automotive standards, this game and market is going to change.
Upon landing, as a reminder that we were arriving in politically “neutral” Switzerland, I was pleased to see that airport’s tarmac was hosting planes painted with the national colors and flags of the U.S., Germany, Iran and several other countries. Before we could exit the jetway for the terminal, we were subjected to a special passport check by armed guards whose expressions looked like they were on to serious business. The show starts tomorrow but the fun has already begun.