5 Big Things To Watch At The Paris Motor Show
The Paris Motor Show, or Mondial de l'Automobile, as the French know it, is one of the auto industry’s most important events. Car companies showcase their latest production models and feature concepts for models down the road.
Held every other year, the show will run from October 4 to October 19 at the Parc des Expositions de Paris in Porte de Versailles, the show's home since 1962. Below are some of the biggest things to watch for.
A Sense of the Market
Less exciting but perhaps more important than the cool cars, the show will be considered an indicator of the European, and even global, car market.
Market research firm IHS Automotive has noted that the car market in Europe still remains 20 percent lower than its pre-crisis average, and analysts don’t expect a full recovery even within the next six years.
However, slow progress is progress nonetheless: New car registrations in Europe have risen 6 percent so far this year. Moreover, IHS Automotive expects 12.5 million units to be sold by the end of 2014, an increase of 5 percent over 2013.
The cars being shown, and the attitude of the show, will be indicative of the strength of the recovery in the European car market.
This year’s show will be a big moment for Ferrari, whose former chairman and president Luca Cordero di Montezemolo resigned in September after 23 years in the position. As the company shows a retractable roof iteration of its 458 Speciale and other models, talk will be about Montezemolo’s legacy and the future.
Rumors have been circulating that it’s a hybrid called the Asterion, and just two days ago, a Lambo looking an awful lot like the mystery car on the website was leaked in print, albeit without any model name mentioned.
While a step down from the vaunted world of the Ferrari and the Lamborghini, other intriguing sports cars are set to hit the show this year.
Jaguar’s new XE will feature a 75 percent aluminum body, taking the move Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) made with its F-150 pickup earlier this year and applying it to a performance sports car. The XE will be much lighter than its primary competitor, the BMW 3 Series, and may boast improved handling and acceleration because of it.
Meanwhile, Mercedes is set to show its new AMG GT, a 503-horsepower powerhouse with a bi-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine. The company has said the car can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Still, it’s an expensive car, carrying a price tag of $195,000.
For those with tighter budgets, Mazda Motor Corp (OTC: MZDAY) will be introducing the latest version of its MX5, which is the world’s best selling roadster. The new model is expected to retail for less than $33,000.
Though not as sexy, several notable SUVs will debut at the Paris Motor Show: Land Rover will introduce a new crossover, the compact, seven-seat Discovery Sport.
The SUV, following in the footsteps of the company’s previous compact, the Freelander (discontinued in 2005), will debut early aboard a barge in the middle of the Seine. Featuring seven giant pairs of Wellington boots, actress/model Rosie Huntington-Whitely, and two active Discovery Sports, the barge is a true display of British chutzpah in the middle of Paris.
Less ostentatious, but perhaps more remarkable, is Volvo AB’s (OTC: VOLVY) XC90 hybrid SUV, which the company claims can reach gas mileage of 100 mpg. Other SUVs to note, all crossovers, include Honda Motor Co Ltd’s (NYSE: HMC) HR-V, Toyota Motor Corp’s (NYSE: TM) C-HR concept, and Fiat S.p.A. 's (OTC: FIATY) 500X.
The crossover crowd will probably receive a lot of attention: According to IHS Automotive, European crossover sales doubled in fiscal 2014. In the U.S., crossovers are the fastest growing segment of the auto industry.
Home Court Advantage
The Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany is actually larger than its Parisian equivalent, but French automakers like Renault SA Regie Nat (OTC: RNSDF) and Peugeot SA (OTC: PEUGY), naturally, choose the Paris Motor Show to display their latest innovations.
Peugeot recently underwent a rescue from the French state, as well as Chinese investors, so obviously it wants to make a good impression. Peugeot will highlight its Exalt concept, a large sedan with an electric scooter stashed in the trunk. The company will also show a high-powered luxury crossover called the Quartz.
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