2002 Paris Auto Show, Part I

September 26, 2002

The Paris Auto Show press days are over, but you can revisit our 2002 Paris Show index of coverage for all the news from the City of Lights.

CHRYSLER TRYING EUROPE AGAIN
The U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler AG has spent years trying to find a way to build demand for its brand in Europe, but so far with little success. While its Jeeps and minivans can be seen on the streets of Paris and other cities across the continent, Chrysler can claim barely a 0.7-percent share of the competitive European market. That doesn’t mean it’s giving up, according to Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the U.S. carmaker. “We believe we can create steady growth and double our volume in the (upcoming) three to five year timeframe,” he declared during a press preview of the Paris Motor Show. Zetsche stressed that Chrysler will not try to come up with products specifically geared for Europe. Quite the contrary. To succeed, it needs “very unique, pushing-the-envelope type products,” such as the California Cruiser, a two-toned version of the PT Cruiser, which is getting its first showing in Europe. Chrysler would have to make some concessions, Zetsche acknowledged, in the form of right-hand-drive and diesel engines. Diesels now account for nearly half the overall market in Europe. —TCC Team

 

2002 Dodge Razor concept

2002 Dodge Razor concept

SURVIVING BY A RAZOR’S EDGE?
Chrysler’s popular Razor concept vehicle may be in for a reprieve. Dodge unveiled the retro-styled roadster at the Detroit auto show last January, but despite strong public response, it had looked like Chrysler wouldn’t put the orange-colored coupe into production. Well, speaking at a preview of the Paris Motor Show, the automaker’s CEO, Dieter Zetsche, suggested Chrysler is having second thoughts. “Razor is not in front position to go into production,” Zetsche said, quickly adding that, “this is not a ‘no.’” —TCC Team

 

2003 Porsche Cayenne

2003 Porsche Cayenne

DIESEL? WHAT DIESEL?
It would seem an oxymoron to put a high-mileage diesel into the new Porsche Cayenne, a prospect the automaker’s CEO, Wendelin Wiedeking, took pains to put to rest during the first showing of the actual SUV/sports car hybrid. (Porsche released a few Cayenne photos to the press last March.) It makes no sense to spend money developing a diesel if Porsche can sell all the gasoline-powered Cayennes it can build, according to Wiedeking. Well, perhaps for now, but German sources tell TheCarConnection that Porsche is preparing a contingency plan recognizing the dramatic European shift towards diesels. To hold down costs, the Stuttgart sports car maker would likely turn to its long-time ally, Volkswagen, which partnered on the development of Cayenne and the similarly conceived VW Touareg. VW is expected to offer at least one, and possibly several diesel options in its own version of the SUV. —TCC Team

 

2003 Ford Streetka

2003 Ford Streetka

TAKING IT TO THE STREET
Ford pulled the wraps off the Streetka, a stubby roadster that started life as a European concept study. Designed by the Ghia studios and bearing more than a little resemblance to the Audi TT Cabrio, the Streetka is based off the newest incarnation of Ford’s mini-compact Fiesta. “Streetka will be almost an icon,” predicted David Thursfield, head of Ford’s European operations. The Streetka was originally designed for a limited production run, reflecting the fast ups-and-downs of stylish niche products. But Thursfield predicted the two-seater likely would maintain its popularity far longer than expected. Meanwhile, Ford also got a jump on the primary press days in Paris, unveiling a multipurpose version of its popular Focus line. Dubbed the Focus C-Max, Thursfield promised the prototype will shortly go into production, and deliver a surprising amount of interior space as well as “great driving dynamics.” —TCC Team

 

WHO NEEDS A GURU?
Not Ford, declared Ford CEO Bill Ford. He argued the automotive and business media are all wrong when they demand the number-two automaker find a product “czar,” like General Motors’ Bob Lutz. “The public doesn’t care who designed their car,” Ford said, suggesting that there are plenty of car-savvy executives at the automaker, not just one in a ranking position. Ford of Europe’s nascent comeback proves the point, the family heir and company chairman emphasized. “A lot of what worked here (in Europe) is in the process of being transferred back to the United States,” said Ford, during a press preview marking the start of the biannual Paris auto show. But he also cautioned that “The U.S. (arm of Ford) is a bigger organization and because of that, it’s probably going to be slower to react” to the changes now underway. —TCC Team

 

ASTON’S BEZ: IT’S IN THE EYES
With sales expected to triple over the next four to five years, Aston Martin is going to be looking for a lot of new dealers, especially in the U.S., said its CEO, Ulrich Bez. Considering the low volumes and personalized service needed to sell and service cars of Aston’s caliber, the British automaker is taking a very slow and cautious approach to approving new franchises. After the initial vetting process, Bez says he goes to see each new candidate. What clinches the deal? “It’s not the interview,” he tells TheCarConnection. “But I want to looking into their eyes and see what they bring to the market. I’m inspired (when) I feel some passion.” —TCC Team
Aston Brewing Porsche Fighter by TCC Team (9/25/2002)

 

Kia KCV-11 concept

Kia KCV-11 concept

KIA GETS CONCEPTUAL
Kia unveiled its KCV-II concept car that’s aimed at young owners with an active lifestyle. The concept has a flexible seating system and an open pickup bed. The car was designed in Kia’s European design studio in Frankfurt, Germany, after an in-house competition. The KCV-II concept is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 and has full time AWD. It is built on a new platform, code-named KM, that will be used in future new Kias, such as a conventional SUV and a lifestyle version like the KCV-II. With this concept Kia also wants to show that it will introduce a tire-pressure warning system, active headrests and emergency brake assist in their production models in due course. —Henny Hemmes

 

A RALLY CONCEPT FROM MITSU
Mitsubishi shows its Pajero Evolution, the first rally car based on a concept car, the Pajero Evo that was launched in Frankfurt last year. The Pajero Evolution will be ready to race the 2003 season and will debut in the 2002 UAE Desert Rally in Dubai Rally (October 29 – November 2). Of course the Evolution will also participate in the Rally Paris-Dakar in January. The new car has a better weight distribution and a lower center of gravity than its predecessor, achieved by placing the tuned 24-valve 3.5-liter V-6 about four inches lower and 12 inches further backwards. The Evolution is the first Pajero with a sequential six-speed stick shift. The car also features  a system to adjust tire pressure from the passenger seat. —Henny Hemmes

 

2002 Honda Civic Type-R (Euro)

2002 Honda Civic Type-R (Euro)

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HONDA
Honda unveiled two special editions to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Civic. The first is of the Civic Type-R and the other is called 1.6 Sport. Both cars have 30th anniversary badges. The Type-R is equipped with Recaro seats and a Momo steering wheel; the rear side windows and the rear window have dark tinted glass. The 1.6 Sport has some of the Type-R details, such as the bumper spoilers and the side skirts. The car also has a roof spoiler on top of the hatch, 15-inch alloy wheels, smoked headlamps and door handles in body color. —Henny Hemmes

 

Volkswagen Magellan concept

Volkswagen Magellan concept

BP: VW DOWN WITH MAGELLAN
Volkswagen AG chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder confirmed a published report that the Volkswagen Magellan crossover SUV concept that the company showed at last January's Detroit auto show will be developed as an Audi, and will share some parts and components with the Volkswagen Touareg. VW is introducing the Touareg, Audi A8 and Audi S4 at this week's Paris motor show. Pischetsrieder also said the new A8 shows Audi's design direction of designing its sedans to look more like coupes. "When I was at BMW, we looked at Audi as following in our footsteps all the time...but you can never get ahead of the competition if you do that," said the former BMW chairman. He noted that BMW's sedans were looking more like traditional Mercedes sedans in the coming redesigns of the 5-Series and 3-Series, leaving Audi designs looking all the more distinctive. "I would say Jaguar and Acura were closer to our natural competitors going forward," said Pischetsrieder. —Jim Burt
Magellan at Detroit: ’02 Detroit Show, Part II by Marty Padgett (1/14/2002)

 

MICHELIN: NO MORE SPARES
Most new vehicles sold a decade from now, especially premium vehicles, will not carry a spare tire, said Michelin Group chairman CEO Edouard Michelin Wednesday at an industry event sponsored by J.D. Power and Associates and Automotive News. "The spare tire is prehistoric," said Michelin, who says it will take another decade for consumers to accept not having a spare. "Most people do not know how to change a tire anyway," said the Michelin scion. The Renault Scenic in Europe is one car, noted Michelin, that does not carry a spare. "Look at the size of the spare tire sitting under the trunk in a Mercedes S Class, and how much room that opens up," said Michelin.The costs of a run-flat tire are still higher than traditional tires, but the costs are coming down, said Michelin, and there is clearly interest at the consumer level and by regulators, especially in the U.S. —Jim Burt

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