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The tech challenges facing automakers

Monday, March 02, 2015 - 01:48

This year's The International Motor Show is getting underway in Geneva. As Sonia Legg reports its taking place as Europe's beleaguered car industry finally starts showing signs of picking up.

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The Volkswagen Passat is Europe's new car of the year. Unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show, the award is the Oscars for the world's automakers. Heinz-Jakob Neusser is from the Volkswagen Group. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF POWERTRAIN DEVELOPMENT FOR THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP, HEINZ-JAKOB NEUSSER, SAYING: "We are really very honoured and very proud to receive this famous award. It's one of the (most) famous awards you can get. It has a broad jury of a lot of automotive international experts." But the main talking point of the show isn't the Passat. It's a machine that may never even be built. Apple is reportedly developing a car. It's not ready to challenge the traditional auto makers quite yet. But if true - it could have quite an impact. The tech giant is worth more than Daimler, Volkswagen, Renault, Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler, put together. Either way the growing use of computing in vehicles, and their ability to connect to smartphones, is providing companies with new challenges and opportunities - it's certainly something VW has recognised. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF POWERTRAIN DEVELOPMENT FOR THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP, HEINZ-JAKOB NEUSSER, SAYING: "It has a broad band of technology inside it like connectivity systems, like driver-assistance systems, the broadband of different efficient powertrains up to this plugin hybrid GTE." This year's show takes places as some of Europe's car giants struggle to emerge from years in the doldrums. There are signs of recovery but CIBC's Jeremy Stretch says it's not across all ranges. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JEREMY STRETCH, MARKET STRATEGIST, CIBC, SAYING: "When you see the likes of BMW doing significantly well. Continuing to talk about hiring more workers, VW also doing relatively well and I think you see those mid-market brands, the GM's and the Fiats and Peugeots perhaps continuing to be under some degree of stress." The luxury car sector isn't holding back. Passat's not one of those but high-priced sports cars and top-end SUVs will be everywhere at the show. The need for speed is largely thanks to high demand from the U.S. and China.

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The tech challenges facing automakers

Monday, March 02, 2015 - 01:48