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Geneva Motor Show: carmakers hope European recovery is here to stay

Geneva Motor Show: carmakers hope European recovery is here to stay
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Cautious optimism seems to to be the mood at the Geneva Motor Show.

After a six-year sales slump, Europe’s car market is finally showing signs of recovery.

Sales in Germany, Italy and Spain rose last month, although they dipped in France.

Some emerging markets, such as Brazil and Russia, suffered a slowdown in demand, but all seems well in China, and the United States.

The luxury part of the industry avoided the worst of the downturn and will be a key battleground as the European market recovers.

Euronews spoke to Stephan Winkelmann, the boss of Lamborghini – part of the Volkswagen group – which also includes more affordable brands like Seat and Skoda.

On the line from Geneva, we asked how he sees the year ahead?

“The global car market, overall, is growing. Even in 2013 it was growing, 70 million cars were shipped, and this year further growth is expected. Maybe not as fast as it was forecast a couple of years ago, but surely there will be growth in 2014 too,” Winkelmann said.

His part of VW doesn’t have to worry too much about demand, there are enough super rich, speed and style obsessed drivers out there to guarantee a storm of orders for the Huracan, successor to its bestselling Gallardo.

So, what what does the Huracan represent for Lamborghini?

Winkelmann said: “Obviously, for us this car represents the future. The Gallardo was the best-selling model in all of Lamborghini’s history, so replacing it is very important for us. It’s going well, because we already have more than 1,000 orders for the Huracan. The typical customer is a man, a self-made man, an entrepreneur, and, usually, in Europe, he’s around 40 years old.”

And obviously he is rich enough to fill the tanks that fuel the Huracan’s 5.2 litre engine.

Going green – sort of – Italian arch-rival Ferrari, which is owned by Fiat, debuted its latest supercar, the California T, at Geneva. It has a turbo charged engine that used 15 percent less fuel than its predecessor.

Euronews asked: “Ferrari was recently ranked the world’s most powerful brand by consultancy Brand Finance, so how do the two supercar makers shape up?”

Winkelmann replied: “At Lamborghini, we do not compare ourselves with others. Just to give you an example, in the first 40 years of our existence, we sold 10,000 cars overall. In the last 10 years, we sold 20,000, so what Lamborghini has done is something exceptional, that no other brand, in my opinion, has done”.

And staying with the iconic Italian brands, Fiat Chrysler also has big plans to boost sales at Maserati. It, along with Alfa Romeo, is the focus of it so-called ‘premium strategy’ revival plan.

Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne will unveil new Maserati models in May as he tries to turn it into a higher-volume marque.

Marchionne is hoping glamour, design and performance will equal survival in the still difficult car market.