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

 

  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales

    £30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

    Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

    Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

    £30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before