Fewer marques make for poorer Paris Motor Show

Some of the bigger marques stayed away but there was plenty to see in Paris, says Hannah Elliot

Fewer marques make for poorer Paris Motor Show

IN 2014, no fewer than 1.25 million people filled the Paris Motor Show floor to ogle the latest from Bugatti, BMW, Maserati, and Mercedes. The biennial show was the industry’s most populated event that year.

For those returning this year, they will likely be disappointed.

The 488 Spider Ferrari is presented on the first day of the press days of the Paris motor Show, on September 29. Picture: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
The 488 Spider Ferrari is presented on the first day of the press days of the Paris motor Show, on September 29. Picture: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Fewer marques than ever in modern times will devote the time and considerable expense to attend this weekend’s Parisian debuts. To them, in an era when social media and live video feeds disseminate new-car images and information instantaneously worldwide, it just isn’t worth it. And for ultra-luxury brands, their best buyers never really frequented car shows anyway.

“At the moment we are revising our strategy at international motor shows, considering the positioning of our brand and the market in which we operate,” said Stefano Domenicali, the chief executive officer of Lamborghini.

“We are choosing thoroughly how to present ourselves to clients, media, and enthusiasts, including the choice of the right locations [where] we want to be.”

The viewing mightn’t be as spectacular, but there is still a lot to see.

The new BMW Concept X2 at the Paris motor Show. Picture: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images
The new BMW Concept X2 at the Paris motor Show. Picture: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

BMW will show its new 3 Series Gran Turismo four-door, the new electric i3 and i8 Protonic Dark Silver special edition model, and a C evolution e-scooter aimed at commuters who want the ultimate battery life and range. It’ll also show an X2 Concept SUV that is expected to go into full production late next year.

Mercedes will show the excellent and aggressive AMG GT R, AMG GLC43 Coupe, GLC350e Coupe, AMG GT and GT C Roadster; it’ll also show an EV concept the automaker calls “a concrete vision of a totally new generation of vehicles with battery-electric drive.”

Mercedes’ Smart brand will reveal the electric drive variants of its ForTwo and ForFour models.

Porsche will debut its Panamera hybrid variant, while Audi will show off the A5 Sportback, S5 Sportback, the high-performance RS variant of the TT, and a Q5 SUV.

The new mini John Cooper Works Clubman at the Paris motor Show. Picture: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images
The new mini John Cooper Works Clubman at the Paris motor Show. Picture: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

Bentley will show the new diesel variant of its Bentayga and Land Rover will unveil the new Discovery SUV, photos of which it has already leaked to semi-lacklustre reception.

Tesla, too, will capitalise on the need for green speed, showing P100D editions of its Model X and Model S for European markets. Lexus will show the UX SUV concept it leaked photos of last month, which is expected to have 3D driving and hologram components that would be novel for the Toyota-owned brand.

As one of the few high-end brands to show, Ferrari is sure to hog a lot of the spotlight with its new LaFerrari Aperta and GTC4 Lusso slated for the stand. And it should be noted that Lamborghini did send a few reps to the annual Volkswagen Group media reception the evening before the opening of the show.

But such big luxury brands as Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Maserati, Cadillac, McLaren, Fisker, Genesis, Lamborghini, and Bugatti are skipping the show altogether. (That’s in addition to mass brands such as Ford, Mazda, and Volvo, among others, that will not attend.) Instead, they’re doing small consumer and VIP press events in intimate, exclusive, and exotic locales.

A new version of the Renault Zoe at the Paris motor Show. Picture: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
A new version of the Renault Zoe at the Paris motor Show. Picture: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

Peugeot is using the show to launch something of an SUV offensive, trying to capitalise on the public’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for such things.

The company will have no less than two new SUVs on display — the 3008 SUV and the seven-seater 5008 SUV. Alongside these much anticipated arrivals, the newly unveiled 3008 DKR (that’s short for Dakar to you and me) from Peugeot Sport will also debut, as well as the new-generation digital Peugeot i-Cockpit.

It says the 3008 SUV is sure to make a considerable impact in the ever-expanding C-SUV market segment, offering an attractive and distinctive style with class-leading technology for high-tech comfort and security feature

The covers also came off the fifth generation Nissan Micra — a car what Nissan describes as “a complete redefinition of what Micra means.”

A new Renault Trezor concept automobile, produced by Renault SA, sits on display at the Paris Motor Show. Picture: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg
A new Renault Trezor concept automobile, produced by Renault SA, sits on display at the Paris Motor Show. Picture: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

Nissan also claim the new car to be “as audacious as it is revolutionary” which is the sort of stuff you hear a lot of the time about new cars, but which is rarely true.

In any event the new Micra is targeted for Europe, the world’s largest hatchback market, and is said to be styled to turn heads, with a dramatic body length-defining character line.

However, despite the varied line up this year, questions remain about the future relevance of motor shows — are they becoming like runway fashion shows — an expensive ego boost for a brand but increasingly superfluous and even annoying for those editors, stylists, and buyers whose jobs actually depend on them?

Most insiders say it’s not quite to that level yet. But things do seem to be heading that direction.

“Car shows will remain relevant — they are just no longer the only choice and may not always be the best choice, depending on what the automaker is looking to communicate,” Stephanie Brinley, a senior automotive analyst for IHS Markit research firm said.

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