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2000 Paris Auto Show, Part I


2001 Ford Mondeo

2001 Ford Mondeo

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WE ARE THE WORLD—CAR. The first-generation Mondeo was supposed to usher in a new era of world cars for Ford Motor Co. But it never quite lived up to expectations. Now Ford’s trying again and the second-generation Mondeo is roomier, sleeker and more technically sophisticated. But it will not be sold in one key market—the U.S. The existing American version, the Ford Contour, is phasing out, and the odds are slim the new car will replace it because it would come too close in size and price to the Taurus. In Europe, though, the new Mondeo faces a big challenge. It’s aimed at the heard of the market, where Ford has become, at best, a marginal player. Overall, the automaker has lost more than three points of European market share since 1994, leaving its operations seriously underutilized and deeply in the red. So, "the new Mondeo signals a turning point for Ford of Europe," proclaimed the division’s president, Nick Scheele, during the Paris preview of the 2001 Mondeo.

 

2001 Opel Corsa

2001 Opel Corsa

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OF CORSA. While Ford may be struggling to regain ground with the Mondeo, the little Corsa has proven a big success for General Motors of Europe, which was facing its own problems just a few years ago. Roomier and more technically sophisticated, the ’01 Corsa offers a variety of neat new features, including the "Easytronic" transmission. It’s a manual, but it is automatically shifted, which eliminates the clutch pedal. Opel expects to sell as many as 500,000 Corsas a year, which would make it one of Europe’s best-selling automobiles. In other GM news from Paris, the automaker offered up more details of its evolving relationship with Italy’s Fiat. Look for a Fiat diesel to show up in an Opel product "within 18 months," according to GM Europe President Michael Burns. Meanwhile, the alliance is going to take its time working together on future small car platforms, added GM CEO Rick Wagoner. Fiat and GM want to focus on near-term cost-cutting opportunities for now, though later in the decade, Wagoner suggested, there is likely to be a move to common small car platform development.

 

2000 Porsche Carrera GT concept

2000 Porsche Carrera GT concept

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PORSCHE POWER. You can never have enough horsepower. At least that seems to be the philosophy behind the Porsche Carrera GT, a roadworthy supercar that was shown in Paris in thinly disguised concept form. The open-top sports car features a 558-horsepower, normally-aspirated V-10 (though a Porsche insider hints that the engine is capable of pumping that up as high as 800 hp). Top speed? A blistering 330 kph, though the GT moved along at a much more sedate speed during a dawn roll-out down the Champs Elysees. "Today, this is still a concept car," said Porsche Chairman Wendelin Wiedeking. "In the year 2003, it may become a reality." Fred Schwab, head of the automaker’s U.S. subsidiary, said he expects to sell as many as 200 GTs during a three-year period. Demand should be strong, he added, because "We’ve never been able to bring to the United States a supercar."

 

2000 volvo performance concept

2000 volvo performance concept

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IT’S ALL IN THE CONCEPT. What happens if you pump a little more power into the new Volvo S60 sedan? You can get a good idea from the Volvo Performance Concept Car which made its debut at the Mondial de l’Automobile. It features a 300-horsepower engine developed in-house by the Swedish carmaker, a six-speed manual gearbox, and a Haldex all-wheel-drive system. Perhaps the most notable breakthrough, though, is the concept’s Continuously Controlled Chassis System, which updates its settings 500 times a second. It can be switched to provide a driver with a comfort, sport or advanced sport ride. "This technology could show up in a future performance version of the S60, hinted the automaker’s Lars Erik Lundin.


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