Geneva 2012: full electric vehicle preview

Farah reveals all the electric stars ahead of March auto show

By Farah Alkhalisi on February 29, 2012 11:33 AM

The 2012 Geneva Motor Show opens to the public on 8th March, and star cars will include plenty of electrified prototypes, concepts and production vehicles – full electric vehicles (EVs), extended range EVs and plug-in hybrids.

There are sure to be a few surprises that haven't been announced prior to the event – we'll be there on press day (Tuesday 6th March) so be sure to follow us on Twitter and keep an eye out for news and images on the day – but here's a preview of what we know so far.


The German premium automaker has already revealed the i3 Concept (the small family-sized EV) and i8 Concept (plug-in hybrid sports car), but Geneva will bring the chance for a further look. Both are “well on the way to serial production readiness”, says BMW, with the i3 to go on sale next year.


Besides the NSX hybrid supercar, Honda is to bring its EV-ster concept first seen in Tokyo last year; this is a compact roadster with all-electric powertrain, a pair of joysticks to control its steering and a solar-panelled dash. Whilst the latter two features would be unlikely to make production, it'd be great if Honda decided to make a fun, affordable and electric successor to the Beat roadster of years past.


Nissan's luxury brand has been teasing images of a sports car concept called Emerg-e – a range-extended EV with mid-mounted powertrain.


At the utility end of the EV spectrum, there's the Mercedes-Benz Vito E-CELL van, now available on contract-hire in the UK and eligible for the Plug-In Van Grant.


The maker of the first mass-produced, purpose-built pure electric car – the Nissan LEAF – will show its van-derived e-NV200 electric MPV – which can seat up to seven. There'll be a further concept, whose details “are being kept closely guarded until the show itself”. Could this be an EV, given that Nissan is promising news on an “expansion of (its) electric vehicle range”?


The Pininfarina design studio will display a concept called Cambiano (“Change”). New images and info were leaked yesterday about this eco-friendly sports saloon; the word is it’s an extended range electric vehicle with a diesel turbine generator but full details are expected when the car is officially unveiled at 1.30pm CET on 6th March.


No doubts about the electric credentials of the long-awaited 2012 Renault Zoe: arguably the most important new EV to be revealed in Geneva, this is Renault's five-door supermini and a car that could be relevant and accessible for a much wider range of buyers than EVs on sale so far.


On the other hand, the Dock+Go is a one-off; Swiss automotive think-tank Rinspeed always has a great concept at Geneva, and this year’s is particularly clever. The Dock+Go is based on the Smart Fortwo ed, and showcases bolt-on modules for load-carrying or an ‘energy pack’, containing a range-extender engine, additional batteries or a fuel cell. A ‘docked’ third axle drives the rotating second axle, and recharges the standard on-board batteries as it does so. This grid-networked ‘Variohybrid’ pack can also act as an auxillary external power source for camping/ outdoors situations, or even for the owner’s home. Read more here.


Not quite as eye-catching, the Suzuki Swift Range Extender, first seen in 2010, has now been developed to give an all-electric range of 18 miles. This features a three-cylinder, 660cc petrol engine plus generator and a lightweight lithium-ion battery.


Tesla's stand will no doubt display the Model S and the new 2012 Roadster, but we'd be pretty disappointed not to see the Model X and its trick folding ‘Falcon Wing’ doors.


Toyota's NS4 plug-in hybrid and FCV-R fuel cell concept will be seen in Europe for the first time; NS4 is a serious proposal for a next-generation mass-market hybrid, and FCV-R “represents Toyota's next step towards mass production of hydrogen-powered vehicles, paving the way for the launch of a saloon-type fuel cell vehicle by 2015”. The FT-Bh concept will explore the idea of a compact, low-cost hybrid car even further.

Vauxhall / Opel

Opel, however, is turning to two wheels with the RAD-e, a futuristic e-bike or ‘pedelec’, inspired stylistically by the 2012 Vauxhall Ampera and the RAK-e concept car. [image © GM Company]

And don’t miss… The Green Pavilion

A dedicated Green Pavillion at Geneva gathers together eco-friendly and electric vehicles, including many from smaller manufacturers and start-ups; show-goers can even test-drive some of these cars on a special circuit or out on the road and models available for driving include the Mia Electric L, Bollore Bluecar, the Ford Transit Connect EV, the complete Renault Z.E. range, the Citroen C-Zero and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Toyota Prius Plug-In and Vauxhall Ampera.

Quadricycle-maker Volteis is to unveil a minimalist Philippe Starck-designed concept car, which is bound to attract a lot of attention from the design fraternity. There's no picture of this available yet, but it's going to be interesting – think of this guy's famous lemon-squeezer!

Check out also the four-wheeled, four-seater tandem Lumeneo Neoma, the folding/extending two/four-seater AAA Industries 3ai Moduleo and the Synerghetic Tilter.

Czech EV converter EVC Group is electrifying the Skoda Roomster; two conversions will be offered, R3 (41hp, 110km/ph top speed, range of 140km) and R7 (88hp, 170km/ph, 175km), and these will be on display in the Green Pavillion.

Italian design consultancy Belumbury will show its two-door, four-seat city car called Dany, a 10kW quadricycle, which could be offered in electric or petrol-powered form. Two-wheelers will be well-represented in the Green Pavillion, including pedelecs, scooters and e-bikes.

There'll also be news from Johnson Controls, the world's largest producer of lithium-ion batteries, and the Swiss Transport Museum will be running a competition for students to design zero-emissions, fun-to-drive vehicle concepts. will be at Geneva for the press day on Tuesday 6th March, covering all the EV news and posting images and videos. Follow us on Twitter and be sure to check back next Tuesday and Wednesday.