Eight things learned at Paris Motor Show
The Paris Show has always been a key barometer of the European market but has it lost some of its sparkle, asks Geraldine Herbert
1: The Paris motor show opened its doors to the press on Thursday with some of big name brands including Ford, Volvo and Mazda notably absent. Luxury brands Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lamborghini and Aston Martin also skipped the show.
As manufacturers spend millions at these shows trying to outshine one another, it is likely that cost was a factor behind their decision but they may also be recognising the fundamental changes in the way we consume news. Social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube along with live internet feeds allow car manufacturers to target potential customers in a more direct manner, a digital unveiling of their latest offering can reach an audience of millions instantly.
2: There was growing concern among global car makers about the implications of Brexit and whether they were be forced to pay tariffs in order to export UK-assembled cars to EU markets. According to Reuters news agency, Nissan's CEO Carlos Ghosn told the press at the show that he wants Britain to commit to paying compensation for any customs tariffs imposed by the EU when the UK leaves or the Japanese auto maker could scrap a potential new investment in its Sunderland plant, the country's biggest. Similarly the UK Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said that its members needed to be part of the EU market. "The future success of this sector will hinge upon the ability of the UK to maintain the business and trading conditions that make the sector so competitive globally," said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawe.
3: Electric vehicles dominated the show as the imposition date for tighter emissions standards looms. By 2021, the manufacturer's fleet average to be achieved by all new cars is 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre therefore by adding low- or zero-emissions cars to the range the overall average can be brought down quite significantly. The star of Volkswagen's stand was their first attempt at a fully electric car, ID that will go into production in 2020. It is a hatchback size compact vehicle and is likely to be similar to the Golf in terms of both power and price.
Meanwhile, France's Renault announced a new version of its electric supermini Zoe, with a claimed range of up to 400 km. And not to be outdone, Mercedes-Benz introduced the first of its new line of electric cars; a full electric Generation EQ concept car promising a 500 km range. A production model is likely to be available by 2019.
4: Some of the most headline grabbing moments were from pre-event publicity stunts and the most noteworthy was not even at Paris. The unveiling of the Land Rover Discovery in Paris on the eve of the show coincided with a similar reveal in the UK. However, the UK event pre-dominated featuring a 13-metre high Lego version of London's Tower Bridge, using an astounding 5,805,846 bricks. It has now made its way into the Guinness Book of Records with the title for the Largest Lego sculpture.
5: Volkswagen post "dieselgate" was keen to redefine its image by demonstrating the considerable progress it had made since this time last year and confirmed that by 2025, one of every four cars it sells will be pure electric or plug-in hybrid. Over 30 new electric vehicle models will be launched over the next decade.
6: Our appetite for SUVs and crossovers was fuelled further at Paris. Audi unveiled the Q5, Land Rover the new Discovery and Skoda's new Kodiaq appeared in some very vibrant colours. BMW's concept X2 was a stylish and sharp looking Coupé-SUV. A production version is likely late next year.
7: Paris, a city whose mayor wants to ban diesels to reduce pollution, was a fitting place for Toyota to announce it decision not to sell a diesel engine version of the new C-HR crossover, it will be sold only with petrol and hybrid power trains. The model, which will go on sale in Ireland next month was not going to be offered here with a diesel option but this move raises questions about the long-term viability of diesel in the Toyota range.
8: One of the big surprises of the show was the all new "funky" Nissan Micra, (left). Originally launched back in 1983, we have always had somewhat of a love-hate relationship with the mini-motor. Due here next March, the new model disposes of the cute designs of the past to sport a new sharper and sportier appearance.