A Scirocco blew through the Geneva Motor Show and brought with it a breath of fresh air in the form of high style and innovative technology.

Volkswagen AG unveiled the third generation of its long-awaited Scirocco, a sleek 4-seat coupe that goes on sale in Europe this summer. With a 7-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission mated to a 158-hp 4-cyl. engine, the car represents “the kind of sports car people dream of,” said VW CEO Martin Winterkorn.

But for U.S. aficionados, it will remain a dream. Fearing it might erode sales of the brand's Rabbit-based GTI, VW has no plans to export the Scirocco.

Ford Motor Co. has no such reservations about its core-brand Fiesta B-car, unveiled as a concept. Scheduled for launch in Europe this year, the U.S. version will debut in 2010 as Ford seeks to satisfy demand for fuel-efficient cars.

Renault SA and design house Pinin-farina SpA unveiled a pair of dynamic, racy concepts. Renault's Megane concept portends the future design direction for that storied nameplate. Fluid and sporty, the coupe features gull-wing doors with windows that open separately.

Pininfarina's Sintesi concept, while also sleek, addresses ever-stricter CO2 emissions regulations facing European auto makers. It is powered by a fuel cell.

Niche player Morgan Motor Co. takes the promise of fuel cells further with its LIFECar (Lightweight Fuel-Effiecient Car) concept, based on the auto maker's Aero 8 2-seater. Morgan marries a hydrogen fuel cell with an ultracapacitor-based hybrid drivetrain that enables a range of 200 miles (322 km) before refueling.

But battery proponents also enjoyed the spotlight. China's BYD Auto Co. Ltd. displayed four hybrid vehicles and announced it will launch a dual-mode hybrid this year in its home market.

This prompted Chairman Wang Chuanfu to declare BYD is “leading the world in battery technology.”

General Motors Corp. had something to say about that as it unveiled plans to go high volume with HEVs with the 2010 launch of a next-generation system that employs lithium-ion batteries.

Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd., a subsidiary of Japan's Hitachi Ltd., will develop GM's lithium-ion battery, GM reveals.

Alternative fuels also were on the radar at Geneva, where GM's Saab brand unveiled the 9-X BioHybrid concept car. Sleek and clean like so many concepts, it features a hybridized turbocharged 200-hp 1.4L engine that runs on E85 ethanol.

Consistent with all European auto shows, diesels played prominently. Automobiles Peugeot announced it is developing a diesel-hybrid racecar while Chrysler LLC unveiled Europe-only styling enhancements to its diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee S Limited and Chrysler 300C.

As further evidence that the winds of change are blowing, Bentley Motors announced a 3-tier plan to reduce by 3% the CO2 emissions of its fleet in time for 2012.

Geneva Auto Show
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