Ode to Joy(rides)

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Ford Mustang 1, graphite on paper. Artist: Marcus Junge

Ford Mustang 1, graphite on paper.
Artist: Marcus Junge

Every time I go to the Geneva International Motor Show, one of the world’s major automobile shows, I have the vague expectation that I will see something that will exceed expectations, break the rules, extend the boundaries.

So far, no luck. The 84th year of the show, which is closing today, is said to have boasted the most prototypes of any show this year. Still, there were no hovercars, and no cars that ran on water, banana peels or thorium. I also didn’t any listing for the once-touted International Advanced Mobility Forum (IAMF) that used to be held during the show to talk about other forms of transportation. So, what was there?

There’s the Tesla, which is a snazzy sedan at the cutting edge of personal vehicle battery powered transport. And at a base price of US$ 69,000, I guess the lit-up door handles are a nice perk.

Tesla door handle.

Tesla door handle.

 

There were a number of very nice electric cars from some of the best automakers, and a number of related products boasted their environmental friendliness.

Still, the vast majority of vehicles got very low efficiency ratings.

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Yokohama BluEarth tire line.

In the case of this giant tire covered in an atlas of the Earth, I’m not sure I get the symbolism. Is it Earth-friendly, is it saying that all of  Earth is wrapped around a petroleum-based tire, or is it saying the tire is going to roll over the blue marble of Earth?

But mostly, as is to be expected, the car show is an orgy of attention on the biggest, baddest motors housed in the fastest, most luxurious, fantastic configurations of metal, leather and plastic one can imagine, an ode sung by hundreds of thousands to the culture of fossil-fuel powered vehicle.

Throngs watch a car turn on a pedestal.

Throngs watch a car turn on a pedestal.

I’m not saying the cars aren’t beautiful (some of them, anyway), or that I don’t still drive a standard-fuel powered vehicle myself.

It’s just that when I first went to the show, back in 1998, I thought by now we’d have gone a bit further down the road of harmonizing our abject adoration of cars with a few concessions to the future of sustainability.

And because it’s a glorious sunny Sunday here, I’m still going to put an an Ode to Joy in spite of this skeptical post.

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