IAMF & The Green Pavilion

As the well-known automotive corporations stole the headlines at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, two smaller but no less important affairs took place within the grounds of the Palexpo. This year marked the fifth anniversary of the International Advanced Mobility Forum (IAMF) as well as just the fourth edition of the Green Pavilion.

You may not have heard of the IAMF, but a bringing together of scientists with key players in the automotive industry provides fertile ground for the presentation and development of ideas crucial in the drive for more sustainable transportation. This year’s forum focused on the widespread commercialization of electric vehicles - a subject that is at the forefront of the industry due to the low uptake of electric vehicles, such as Nissan’s Leaf and Chevrolet’s Volt (recently winning European Car of the Year in its Ampera guise), in relation to the early and optimistic targets set by manufacturers.

The consequential torrent of unanswered questions posed by this umbrella topic included whether the consumption habits of owners could easily and quickly be changed and if the very way we think about and, indeed, use transport needs to change fundamentally. The forum also recognized that the internal combustion engine as viable powerplant for consumer transportation still has a considerable, and lengthy, role to play.

Again, however, the problem of an adequate infrastructure raised its ugly head. Perhaps a more concerted and organized effort needs to be exacted – something akin to the UK H2 Mobility collaboration introduced earlier this year, with the aim of establishing a hydrogen refueling framework in the UK. The public will also need to be realistic about how much range or autonomy they really need; currently the feeling is that consumers demand too much and this trend will lead to battery-powered vehicles weighing nearly three tons. This is difficult to justify, yet the public remain largely unconvinced by manufacturer’s current alternative transport offerings. The general feeling was that the EU’s emissions target of an average of 95 g/km CO2 by 2020 will lead to vehicles that are smaller and less powerful than the public actually want. All things considered, it is difficult to challenge this scenario.

Last year’s IAMF was in agreement that the future of mobility lay in electrically powered vehicles and not their hydrogen driven counterparts. This year’s conference suggested that although battery power density is constantly improving and battery’s themselves can now claim to be nearly as long-lived as the vehicle with houses them, the transition from ICE vehicles to EVs (via hybrids) is going to take longer than expected.

In tandem with IAMF, this year’s Green Pavilion offered a more practical insight into the world of future mobility. With more than twenty exhibitors in an intimate setting, the Pavilion saw world debuts for the Mercedes Vito E-CELL as well as Renault’s striking Z.O.E and the much-anticipated Volteis, designed by Phillipe Stark.

Mercedes Vito E-Cell

Volteis V+ by Philipe Starck

The Pavilion offers visitors the opportunity to test drive many of the vehicles on display, from Renault’s rather individual Twizy to the all-new, far more subtle but no less impressive, Ford Focus Electric. The test route consists of an oval track but many cars, such as Opel’s Ampera, can be taken out onto the streets of Geneva leaving the driver with a more informed opinion.

The Green Pavilion offers smaller outfits the chance to exhibit their vehicles in an environment that is not overshadowed by the major manufacturers. Belumbury’s electric ‘Dany’, for example, stood out and received just as much attention as the Leaf Nissan had on display.  It’s this equality, which is distinctly lacking under the spotlights of the Palexpo’s main halls, which makes the Green Pavilion such an attractive option for independent manufacturers. Take a look below for a snapshot.

Nissan Leaf


Renault Twizy

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