A raft of new vehicles is being unveiled at the Geneva International Motor Show - including an SUV from Aston Martin. As Ciara Lee reports from the show there's a new mood of optimism as Europe's auto industry shows signs of recovery after years in the doldrums.
Sports cars costing millions for the world's wealthy elite. It's a full tank of optimism at the opening of the Geneva International Motor Show. It's the first big event of the year for the world's top automakers, and they're keen to impress. The Aston Martin Vulcan is a 1.8 million pound special edition designed for the race track. It can reach speeds of 200 mph and O-60 in three seconds. Also gathering speed, European car sales grew in 2014 for the first time in six years. And early sales figures for this year show a further gain. Struggling euro zone economies, Portugal and Spain saw sales jump 28 percent on the year in January. BMW board member Ian Robertson says the recovery is sustainable. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BMW BOARD MEMBER IAN ROBERTSON. "The United Kingdom is very very strong. It had a market of around 2 and half million, the highest I think in about 12 years. Germany it is a big market. The biggest in Europe. It is three million cars a year. But it is flat lining. I think you can't say there is a common denominator or a common way forward here. It will be developments, but on average Europe can continue to move forward in a progressive way." The bigger worries for European carmakers now come from the markets that were once their great hope. Russia's economy is in freefall thanks to sanctions and the collapse in oil prices. Brazil is in the doldrums and even Chinese growth is cooling off. (SOUNDBITE) ANALYST EY ANALYST RANDALL J MILLER, SAYING: "We are seeing a number of our clients move production out of that market and really take a very short term wait and see view to that market and I think that is going to continue for the next twelve to eighteen months." The focus of the show may be on luxury, but the mainstream consumer is also getting a look-in. The shrinking SUV is a big theme. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER CIARA LEE, SAYING: "The boost to car sales is creating a buoyant mood among industry leaders here. And the fall in oil prices has helped, with carmakers hoping it will leave consumers feeling better off and less worried about the fuel consumption of that shiny new car." Electric and hybrid cars are taking more of a back seat this year. They're feeling flat as concerns over their battery life remain. For the traditional automakers though, they're just happy to finally have cause for celebration.