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Most Internationals Desert Paris, But China Turns Up In Strength

Most Internationals Desert Paris, But China Turns Up In Strength.

“(Mondial de l’Automobile mainly a Franco-Chinese show for cars and small urban vehicles”

The biennial Paris Auto Show was a slimmed-down shadow of its former pre-Covid self, although it probably didn’t expect its return to coincide with a European economy about to dive into recession, rampant inflation, and a war in Ukraine which shows no signs of ending.

It’s mainly a French show concentrating on electric vehicles, with major input from China, plus a few weird urban electric ideas that will raise eyebrows but not many sales.

The show is sub-titled “The Revolution Is On” and electric cars will dominate the headlines, led by the Renault 4ever compact SUV, the Jeep Avenger, and Fisker Ocean. A feature of the show’s battery element is a section devoted to electric mobility which includes all kinds of weird ideas from the bizarre, cute, downright ugly, and some which look too vulnerable for any buyer of a nervous disposition. None of them look to have a chance of more than a few niche sales. There are also two French startups targeting the hydrogen vehicle market – the Hopium Machina sports sedan concept and the NamX SUV.  

Otherwise known as Mondial de l’Automobile 2022, this is the first Paris show since 2018. The list of no-shows includes Stellantis’s Fiat, Maserati and Alfa-Romeo, VW and its Audi, Porsche SEAT and Skoda subsidiaries, BMW and Mini, Hyundai and its Kia affiliate, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and Lexus, Mercedes, Subaru, Volvo, Ford and even Stellantis unit Citroen.

Yes that’s right, even French auto icon Citroen is not appearing at its own show, according to French auto consultancy Inovev

It remains to be seen if this much smaller version of what used to be a truly global auto industry event is a sign of the times, when the big automakers shun the high expense of appearing in Paris, Frankfurt and Geneva (now moved to Doha, Qatar next year). Auto companies are now finding it more economical and effective to launch products when it suits their timetable. Last week the Polestar 3 SUV was launched in Copenhagen, where it didn’t have to share headlines with any other launch. Mercedes isn’t appearing at the show but launched its EQE SUV at the Rodin Museum in Paris on Sunday. Volvo will launch its big EX90 next month. BMW unveiled its M2 before the Paris show. Definitely appearing at the show will be the Chinese, launching a big offensive. BYD will show the compact SUV the Atto, the Tang mid-size SUV and the Han midsize sedan. Great Wall will show its Ora Funky Cat.

“(Mondial de l’Automobile 2022) is mainly a Franco-Chinese show for cars and a show for small urban vehicles,” said French auto consultancy Inovev in a report. 

“quadricycle” – no thanks
The small urban vehicles include the Renault Mobilize Duo, and the recently launched Microlino from Italy. These are known as “quadricycles” in France which means they are very slow and therefore don’t require a driver’s license and can be used by children over 14. Safety tests are the same as for motorcycles. That combination doesn’t suggest much of a market in the real world. 

A Chinese candidate is called the XEV Yoyo and it offers a battery-swapping service like its compatriot NIO, which is also cranking up the launch of expensive electric cars in Europe. Other city vehicle makers have suggested swapping the whole car when the battery runs out. 

REV Mobilities retrofits petrol or diesel cars with electric motors and batteries and offers the chance of a serious, safe, affordable vehicle. Given the average price of a new electric car in Europe was €55,821 ($55,000) in the first half of 2022, according to auto industry consultancy JATO Dynamics, that offers plenty of scope for an affordable electric vehicle. REV Mobilities is based in Paris, and is showing a retrofitted Peugeot 504 Coupe, Triumph Spitfire and Citroen Jumpy van.

Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Duisberg, Germany, wonders if there is a future for the Paris show, or by implication other international showpieces.

“Mondial” has shrunk to a regional fair 

“The problems of Paris are reflected in Europe. The “Mondial de l’Automobile 2022” is anything but “Mondial” but has shrunk to a regional fair. Will there be another Mondial in 2 years? That is written in the stars. At the same time, the problems of Paris reflect the car business in Europe. The Ukraine war is hitting Europe hard and that also applies to the car markets,” Dudenhoeffer said.


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