Post-crisis Paris car show goes electric, looks to Asia

Automakers gathered Thursday at the Paris Car Show hoping the huge Asian market will let them put crisis behind them as they premiere dozens of models and a bevy of electric cars ready to hit the road.

More than 300 firms from across the world will be represented at the two-week exhibition that opens to the public from Saturday - after two days of press previews and a visit Friday by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Glamour comes in the form of Ferrari's drop-top SA Aperta - just 80 models will be built - and French automakers Renault and Citroen's showcasing of cars they built in partnership with fashion brands Lacoste and Miss Sixty.

More than a million visitors were due to flock to the exhibition halls to ogle gleaming vehicles and see for themselves the latest innovations in the art of driving.

Among the cars on show are Kia's three-seater electric "Pop" concept, featuring "butterfly-wing" doors that open both upwards and forwards.

Mercedes unveils its new CLS which mixes coupe styling with the four doors of a saloon. Ford will be unveiling to European buyers its new Focus ST, while the future of family cars may be hinted at in Vauxhall's GTC Paris Concept.

Peugeot features its upgrade for the 407, the 508, and visitors will get a peek at the new Citroen C4.

The economic crisis savaged the car industry and it is now setting its sights on emerging markets like China to compensate for the stagnating sales and fierce competition in Europe.

But it is "still much too soon" to say that the crisis is behind us, said Mark Fulthorpe, an analyst with CSM Worldwide consultants.

With government "cash for clunkers" schemes coming to an end, "the economic fundamentals are not sufficient to convince people to buy cars," he said.

European carmakers are expecting a drop of 7.0 percent in sales this year. But car sales in China are continuing to rise rapidly, making it the biggest market in the world and the new eldorado for the car industry.

"Europe and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are the keys to the market," said Bertrand Rakoto, an analyst with RL Polk.

"In Europe, carmakers have to defend their positions, and in the BRICs, they have to work out what are the right vehicles for those markets," he said.

Ever tougher regulations on carbon dioxide emissions by cars, environmental worries and uncertainty over oil prices are all major concerns for the automobile industry.

Carmakers are continuing to invest heavily in new technologies to reduce CO2 emissions and to slash energy consumption.

Electric cars will once again be stars of the show at the Paris exhibition.

Renault is presenting the electric Fluence ZE (zero emission) saloon and its Kangoo Express ZE van, which are expected to go on sale next year, and it is also to unveil a near-final version of its flagship Zoe model.

PSA is displaying the runabouts Peugeot Ion and Citroen C-Zero, derived from the Mitsubishi i-Miev, and Nissan will be showing off its Leaf saloon.

"We have now moved from electric concept cars to cars you can actually buy," said Carlos da Silva of IHS Global Insight. "Paris will be the first car show in the world where there really will be five or six cars you can choose from."

Manufacturers are in parallel continuing to develop hybrids, with PSA due to bring out a diesel-electricity hybrid next year.

But improving traditional engines remains a major goal. Innovations which can reduce motor size without also reducing performance result in cars like the two-cylinder TwinAir Turbo that Fiat is showcasing.

"New technologies are the tip of the iceberg, but in fact what continues to sell and what makes up the bulk of sales are traditional cars," said Carlos da Silva.

sbo-rm/bm

 

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Cover Supervisor

    £75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam