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2004 Paris Auto Show, Part I


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2004 Paris Auto Show by TCC Team (9/20/2004)
The well-loved lights of the City of Light take the stage.


Chevy Going Global

Aiming to leverage its global resources, General Motors rolled out a series of products that will be used to support the launch of its Chevrolet brand in Europe next year. Though one in 16 cars sold worldwide is a Chevy, the marque has been, until now, a niche player on the continent, marketing specialty models like the Corvette. But starting in January, Chevrolet will serve as GM’s entry-level brand on the continent. Initially, its products will be low-priced models produced by Daewoo, the South Korean carmaker General Motors purchased in a fire sale two years ago.  “We now have the opportunity to sell our Korean cars as Chevrolets,” explained GM CEO Rick Wagoner. Eventually, however, Chevy’s European dealers could see the brand move a bit upscale, but the middle of the European market will be left to German-based Opel.


Chevrolet S3X

2004 Chevrolet S3X concept

2004 Chevrolet S3X concept

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The SUV-style concept is a thinly-disguised version of one of the first new models Daewoo will produce for Chevrolet to sell in Europe. It will feature an all-new diesel produced in Korea. The crossover vehicle can hold up to seven passengers in three rows. The S3X boasts a large rear window that can be opened separately from the tailgate. And an oversized glass roof provides the concept vehicle with an open and airy feel. GM officials admit that the Daewoo brand name did not have an overly positive image around the world, one reason they’re abandoning it in favor of Chevrolet. But GM “car czar” Bob Lutz insists any concerns about quality are a thing of the past. In general, he told TheCarConnection, “Korean quality is coming up so fast now, it rivals the rest of the world.”


Opel Astra GTC

2005 Opel Astra GTC

2005 Opel Astra GTC

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While much of the attention is going to the launch of Chevrolet, GM isn’t exactly ignoring its mainstay European brand, Opel. The troubled subsidiary has been clawing its way towards a turnaround with an aggressive product offensive that “is sacred” to its revival, asserted GM Europe Chairman Fritz Henderson. The Astra is a major link in the chain of new models rolling out of GM plants, and a sportier Astra GTC version makes its debut in Paris this week. The hatchback will boast an array of five different gasoline and diesel engines, from 90 to 120 horsepower. Meanwhile, a high-performance concept version of the Astra was unveiled at the Thursday press preview, its 2.3-liter gasoline engine producing 240 horsepower.


Ford Focus

2005 Ford Focus

2005 Ford Focus

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Like GM, Ford Motor Co. is struggling to reverse steady sales declines and turn red ink black. So the newly-updated Ford Focus will be critical to that turnaround. Focus “reflects the priorities we’ve set for ourselves in Europe,” declared Lewis Booth, who runs the operation. Sharing platforms with the well-received Volvo S40 and Mazda3, the subcompact gains almost an inch in wheelbase, and nearly eight inches overall. It will be offered in a variety of body styles, including sedan, hatchback, and wagon.

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