WardsAuto writers pass along the buzz at this week’s Geneva auto show.
Barb Samardzich, Ford of Europe’s product czar.
Barb Samardzich,of Europe’s vice president-product development, says the No.1 priority on her 2012 to-do list is launching seven new or significantly refreshed products, ranging from the B-Max small minivan to the 1-ton Transit commercial van, both of which were unveiled here today.
“I could really do without this little economic crisis that’s going on here in Europe,” says Samardzich, who marked her sixth month on the job last week.
“I stepped off the plane and the euro dove, collapsing around me,” she tells WardsAuto. “I’m trying not to take it personally.”
Geneva is the home of some of the world's best watches, but that doesn't mean they know how to tell time in Switzerland.
Press conferences in Hall 1, supposed to last 15 minutes each, already were more than a half hour out of sync early in the morning when Infiniti finished introducing its Emerge concept sports car.
The international composition of the media horde covering the auto show not only is evident by their name badges, but also by the questions they ask.
Against a backdrop where auto maker after auto maker unveils small car after small car, a small group of journalists surrounds’s Alan Mulally, peppering him with questions. But the affable CEO turns the tables on one scribe.
Journalist: “Where are you with large cars?”
Mulally: “So how is Australia?”
Sweden No Eden
Peter Horbury, newly appointed senior vice president-design at China-based Geely, reminisces about the pushback he received during his tenure as Volvo design chief.
He says he encouraged designers at the Sweden-based company, now owned by Geely, to embrace its Scandinavian roots.
Horbury is credited with instilling Volvo design with its distinctive fluidity; replacing the straight, perpendicular lines that stressed function over form and gave Volvo cars their trademark boxy shape.
It was as if the brand’s designers and engineers sought to punish themselves, instead of having fun. “If there’s one thing the Swedes do well, it’s suffering,” Horbury tells WardsAuto.