With a hundred premier presentations, the automobile industry shows that it's ready to accelerate away from the crisis. In this edition, ecological factors are strongly present, with electric cars ready for the road, and the first "world cars" (cars designed to be manufactured in many different countries for more economical and grassroots distribution).
The Paris Motor Show has a long history, running back to 1895, just a few years after the earliest "horseless carriages" were presented at the Universal Expo in 1889. In the 1895 show, there was a risk that vehicles that were not automobiles at all would be shown, and so one of the rules was that to be exhibited, a vehicle had to complete a trip from Paris to Versailles and back under its own power before the event. Over 220 exhibits passed the test, and the show became a yearly event. For 60 years, the Exposition Internationale d'Automobiles was held in the Grand Palais. Only in 1962, following chronic problems of space, was the show moved to Porte de Versailles.
As in previous editions, this year's event includes a special exhibition named "The Incredible Collection - Treasures from manufacturer museums," showcasing ten manufacturers who present an episode in their history, concentrating on just one historic model. This year, Alfa Romeo present the Giulietta, Jeep-Chrysler showcase the Jeep, and Mercedes-Benz feature the iconic Gullwing designs.
Many new products in the luxury car sector will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. Maserati will be presenting news of the MC Stradale, to be launched on the market in spring 2011. This Gran Turismo will have two seats, and will be the fastest and most powerful Maserati of all, with a 444 bhp V8.
Range Rover present their Evoque, which was developed from their LRX concept car. It is the smallest and cleanest Range Rover ever, and, for a SUV, it is relatively low-slung, with the contemporary-design feature of low, sleek windows. Bentley will be showcasing the new Continental GT, the second generation of the car of this name but in fact totally redesigned, and with a choice of either the 6-litre W12 (567 bhp) or a new 4-litre V8 engine which will arrive in 2012 (catering in particular for markets where taxation changes at 4000 cc, such as China). The 2011 Continental GT looks different, with the small double circular headlights, and a lower, sleeker grille and windows.
Jaguar present their C-X75 Supercar concept, a smart-looking two-seat car that hides more than a touch of ecology. The engine is a diesel with two micro-turbines that give the power plant very low overall C02 emissions. The turbines in fact charge batteries, and the electric current is fed to four electric motors in the wheel hubs. The car is capable of running for about 65 miles on electricity alone. This is of course the classic concept car, but nonetheless exciting at that, with a top speed of 205 mph, and 0-62 mph acceleration in 3.4 seconds. Lamborghini present another concept, the Sesto Elemento, an all-carbon model, in which kerb weight is under 1000 kg, which, with a 562 bhp V10 engine, prefigures sparkling performance. "Sesto Elemento" refers to carbon fibre, and when the car is ready for the road, that sort of power will translate to 0-62 mph in 2.5 seconds.
Lotus presents the Evora, with a supercharged Toyota V6 3.5 litre engine that will produce a top speed of over 170 mph. However, the marque have actually gone much further at this show, with five new cars, two developments of existing models, and a concept car. Plus a magazine and a range of clothing. In brief, the cars are the new Lotus Esprit, 5 litre, 620 PS, the new 4-litre Lotus Elan, the new Lotus Elise (2 litre, the Lotus entry level car), the 5-litre Lotus Eterne, a low-carbon emissions concept city car, the Evora S and the automatic Evora IPS.
Tesla presents the electric Tesla 2.5, restyled at front and back with a redesigned grille, and a seven-inch touch screen display which shows the images supplied by the reverse camera.
The show is open from Saturday 2 October to Sunday 17 October, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Thursday 7 and 14 October, the show stays open until 10 p.m. The show is located at Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles, Place de la Porte de Versailles, 75015 Paris. Public transport: Metro station Porte de Versailles, line 12, or station Balard, line 8. Lines T2 and T3 (trams) serve the stop "Porte de Versailles."
For taxis from the show, phone +33 (0)1 4530 3030.
By car: from motorways, drive towards Paris, then take the West or South Peripheral, exit at Porte de Versailles.
Articles from the Paris Motor Show:
SA Aperta, the most exclusive Ferrari ever