2002 Paris Auto Show, Part II

September 27, 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.

 

HOW HIGH IS TOO HIGH?
This year’s Mondial de l’Automobile features an unusually high percentage of ultra-luxury introductions, ranging from the Bentley Continental GT to the Ferrari Enzo. TCC’s data suggests that if all the products hitting the street at $150,000 or more achieve their sales targets, they would reach annual volumes of at least 18,000 units annually, and perhaps more than 20,000. That may not sound like much in an industry selling 70 million or more vehicles a year. But the ultra-luxury segment accounted for only about 7000 vehicles in 2001. Some skeptics think there could be big trouble ahead, especially if the U.S. economy continues to slip. The States are, after all, the world’s largest luxury market. But vehicles like the Bentley and DaimlerChrysler’s new Maybach have “nothing to do with the car business,” countered Bernd Pischetsrieder, CEO of Volkswagen AG, which owns ultra-lux brands Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti. “If you have enough temptation,” he says, in the form of new products, “there is an endless number of customers who will queue up.” That position is echoed by Merrill Lynch auto analyst John Casesa, who notes “over the last 15 years, a lot of people have become millionaires,” and want something distinctive from more run-of-the-mill, mass produced luxury cars. —TCC Team
Carmakers in a Horsepower War by TCC Team (5/13/2002)


 

2003 Ford Sportka

2003 Ford Sportka

FORD’S NEW MATH
“We’re still a six out of 10 in terms of product execution,” Ford of Europe Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David W. Thursfield told TheCarConnection during the roll-out of the automaker’s latest European products on Thursday. “We’ve got a long way to go, but a lot of things are coming. TCC has already shown the new Ford Streetka; Thursday morning’s unveiling revealed two additional vehicles, a three-door version of the Fiesta minicar, and the Sportka, a peppy version of the Ford’s little Ka microcar. It features a 1.6-liter, 95-horsepower engine. The automaker is coming close to completing a promise to roll out 45 new products over five years as part of its product-led European revival program. —TCC Team
Streetka: Paris Auto Show, Part I by TCC Team (9/26/2002)

2003 Ford Fiesta

2003 Ford Fiesta

2003 Ford Fiesta three-door

 

 

 

 

2003 Ferrari Enzo

2003 Ferrari Enzo

FERRARI BOWS TO PRESSURE
Auto executives like to say they always like to produce one car short of demand. But what do you do when you receive a steady flow of complaints that you’ve more seriously shorted the potential market for your $700,000 sports car? In the case of the new Enzo, Ferrari’s fastest and most powerful road car ever, you crank up production from 349 to 399. But the Italian marque won’t have to worry about vehicles gathering dust at the dealer showroom. “We have already sold out all the cars,” announced Luca de Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari-Maserati. “So on the day of the (public introduction), this car is no longer available.” Named for Ferrari’s legendary founder, the Enzo will churn out 650 horsepower, hit a top speed of 217 mph, and launch from a dead stop to 60 in 3.6 seconds. —TCC Team

 

2004 Bentley Continental GT

2004 Bentley Continental GT

BENTLEY DANCES THE CONTINENTAL
Bentley finally pulled the covers off its long-awaited new sports coupe, branding the $150,000 vehicle the Continental GT. The name—and the new car’s styling—are meant to evoke memories of one of the most widely renowned Bentleys ever built, the 1952 Continental R. Expected to boast more than 500 horsepower when it reaches dealer showrooms next year, the Conti GT will have a lot riding on it. On January 1, Bentley officially splits off from its partner of 71 years; to be owned by BMW then, Rolls-Royce moves to a new plant near Southampton, while Bentley stays in the small British town of Crewe. Its new German parent, Volkswagen AG, has invested about $750 million in Bentley, according to the luxury marque’s CEO, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen, who previously served as chairman of VW’s Audi brand. About a third to one half less expensive than Bentley’s existing models, Paefgen nonetheless believes the buyers of the Continental will be “more demanding and discerning than we have seen before.” So the new sports coupe will require a higher level of technology, refinement and performance than older-style Bentleys. —TCC Team

 

2004 Jaguar XJ Paris auto show

2004 Jaguar XJ Paris auto show

JAGUAR XJ: SILVER SPECTER
Jaguar staged a blinding debut of its new XJ on Thursday, rolling out a mirrored silver sedan designed to quite literally highlight the fact that the seventh-generation flagship is made of lightweight aluminum. In a slap at the much-maligned BMW 7-Series, Jaguar Managing Director Mike Beasley declared his company’s goal with the XJ is to “embrace relevant, state-of-the-art technology that helps, rather than baffles, the driver.” The lightest version of the new four-door is 440 pounds lighter than the last-generation XJ, meaning more performance from conventional engines. And that will allow Jaguar to bring back the old XJ6 nameplate, using a new, 3.5-liter V-6. Unlike the Audi A8, which is built around a complex spaceframe, the new Jaguar uses a relatively conventional monococque chassis and body, though instead of welding, most joints are riveted or glued together. —TCC Team
Preview: 2004 Jaguar XJ by TCC Team (9/16/2002)

 

VW AND PORSCHE: PARTNERS AT ARMS
The relationship between Porsche and Volkswagen appears to be souring just as the two companies prepare to launch the two new SUV/sports car crossover vehicles they jointly developed. Porsche led the project, and will sell its version under the Cayenne nameplate. VW will market its crossover as the Touareg. Both vehicles took their formal bows in Paris this week, generating plenty of interest and more than a bit of controversy. Their odd heritage is only part of the reason. Porsche insiders are clearly not pleased that VW is taking aim at their upscale niche, rather than taking Touareg down-market. “I’ve definitely got some competition,” complained Fred Schwab, president of Porsche Cars North America. “They should have seen it coming,” countered a VW exec, asking not to be mentioned by name. Referring to Porsche, he added that “Sometimes a company can get a bit myopic.”
Cayenne “Profitable from Day One” by Ian Norris (9/26/2002)

 

2003 Volkswagen Touareg

2003 Volkswagen Touareg

TOUAREG ARRIVES IN CROWDED SEGMENT
Volkswagen introduced its long-awaited sport-utility vehicle, the Touareg, which company CEO Bernd Pischetstrieder promises will present “a new alternative” in the increasingly crowded segment. The Touareg goes on sale in the U.S. next year with a V-6 model priced in the mid-$30,000s. A V-8 costing about $10,000 more will follow late in 2003 or early in 2004. “We’re late to the party, but what an entrance,” said Wilfred Bockelmann, VW board member responsible for technical development. He promised the Touareg would offer “the dynamics of a sports car, the comfort of a luxury sedan, and the capability of an SUV.” VW developed the Touareg with Porsche, which introduced its Cayenne SUV in Paris. The Touareg, which VW wants pronounced “tour-egg,” features electronically controlled full-time all-wheel drive, including a low gear for heavy offiroad use. The normal torque split of 50/50 rear/front can be varied to 100 percent on either axle for traction. A six-speed automatic transmission is mated to a 220-hp 3.2-liter V-6 and a 4.9-liter diesel V-10 that generates 313 hp. The diesel uses just 12.2 liters of fuel per 100 km. VW may offer the diesel in the U.S. —Mark Phelan

 

IT DOESN'T TAKE A WEATHERMAN…
The most important task for Volkswagen's new CEO, Bernd Pischetsrieder, is to make the company "weatherproof." During a conversation at the annual Paris Motor Show, Pischetsrieder made it clear big changes are on the way at the German company. He has already begun to reposition VW's various brands so they overlap less. And he's taking steps to ensure new vehicles are more distinctive. One of the problems Volkswagen faces is the fact that models like the Passat and Audi A4 are too much alike, critics contend, but Pischetsrieder predicts that will be less the case in the future. Look for significantly more niche vehicles, he added, a reflection of the fact that the European market (along with the U.S.) is fragmenting into small niches-36 different segments, by VW's definition, compared to nine a mere decade ago. VW has seen its sales and market share soar over that decade, but Pischetsrieder is reluctant to take full advantage, cautioning it is best not to overbuild production capacity for the boom years, then suffer when sales and share slip. Considered a leader in interior and exterior design, VW and Audi are considered by many competitors to be the brands to copy and beat. That doesn't worry him, says Pischetsrieder. "Who follows in someone else's footsteps can't lead," he laughs. "If they copy us," he adds, "we will go somewhere else." —TCC Team
Audi Muscling Into Top Tier? by TCC Team (9/9/2002)

 

2003 GM Hy-Wire concept

2003 GM Hy-Wire concept

GM DEBUTS HY-WIRE ACT
General Motors took the unusual step of introducing one of its more unusual concept vehicles in Paris. Hy-Wire is short for both hydrogen and by-wire, the first part referring to the vehicle's hydrogen-powered fuel cell stack, the second half of the name refers to the drive-by-wire system that replaces conventional mechanical controls. There are no pedals in the unusually spacious cabin, just a videogame-style controller that puts steering, braking, shifting and throttle controls right at the driver's fingertips. And the controls can be moved to allow for both right- and left-hand-drive. All mechanical systems are located beneath the cabin floor in a chassis no more than 11 inches thick. And in GM's concept, the bodies could be quickly swapped out, allowing an owner to drive a coupe one day, an SUV the next. "This is a true reinvention of the automobile," declared the automaker's technology chief, Larry Burns. GM officials insist they are serious about putting Hy-Wire and other fuel cell vehicles into production, but likely not until late in the decade. —TCC Team
GM Walks Hy-Wire with FCV by TCC Team (8/19/2002)

 

2003 Opel Meriva

2003 Opel Meriva

WAGONER: CREATIVITY COUNTS
“When we’re aggressive with new products in Europe, we do well,” stressed General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner. “When we get conservative, we fall back.” Struggling to reverse decline share and profit, the carmaker unveiled a series of new vehicles that GM of Europe Chairman Carl-Peter Forster declared “rolling showcases of our strategy.” The Meriva is a microvan-like vehicle that “doesn’t fit into any conventional product segment,” Forster insisted. Though less distinctive, its flexible interior has a lot in common with Chrysler’s popular PT Cruiser.


2003 Opel ECO-Speedster Concept

2003 Opel ECO-Speedster Concept

The Opel ECO-Speedster is a two-seater terror designed to demonstrate that diesels can inspire a little excitement. The concept vehicle is a closed-top version of the current, open-air roadster, the Opel Speedster. The ECO-Speedster version features a 112-hp turbodiesel that gets close to 95 miles to the gallon—while also delivering a top speed of nearly 160 mph. —TCC Team

 


2003 BMW Z4

2003 BMW Z4

BMW UNVEILS Z4
BMW introduced its new Z4 roadster, which boasts an angular new exterior style and another look at BMW’s ideas for future interior designs. The new design emphasizes the Z4’s long nose, giving it a profile reminiscent of the Aston Martin DB6. The car has extremely short front and rear overhangs. The new interior design, like the Z4’s exterior, emphasizes sharp lines and angles. The wide-opening doors make entry and exit considerably easier than in the Z3. The gauge package features a computer display for the trip computer in the speedometer. The tachometer houses smaller gauges for fuel and water temperature. The Z4, which BMW builds in Spartanburg, South Carolina, adds a one-touch power operated roof, which BMW says is the fastest-opening in its class. BMW also confirmed yesterday that it would expand the Z4’s production base in Greer, S.C., and spend $400 million to add more capacity and 400 more jobs. —Mark Phelan

 

2009 Kia Borrego

2009 Kia Borrego

ESPACE GOES BACK TO ITS ROOTS
Renault introduced the fourth generation of its Espace minivan, the vehicle that created the segment Chrysler has since come to dominate. Renault launched the first Espace in 1984. The new model features larger wheels -- up to 18 inches -- and a wider track for what Renault calls “a more masculine design.” The automaker hopes to sell 450,000 annually in short- and long-wheelbase models.

 

2003 Renault Ellypse concept

2003 Renault Ellypse concept

Renault also showed a concept, the Ellypse, which it calls “a bubble of optimism in the automotive world.” Renault’s lofty statements about goals the Ellypse include “Aggressiveness is banished from the smooth yet friendly” design, and an interior that “radiates soothing vibes.” The rounded hatchback was designed for easy disassembly at the end of a car’s life. Renault says the concept’s diesel further contributes to environmental goals because of its low fuel consumption and the use of a unique four-way catalytic converter that processes CO NOx, unburnt hydrocarbons and particulates.

 

2003 Renault Megane

2003 Renault Megane

The new Renault Megane II small car features a new platform developed jointly with Nissan. The new C segment platform will account for more than a quarter of Renault-Nissan production by 2006 with more than 1.8 million vehicles a year forecast. The Megane coupe and sport coupe clearly continue the edgy, muscular design them Renault began with its Vel Satis luxury car. The engine range will include a variety of gasoline and diesel units topped by a 136-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder that features variable valve timing. —Mark Phelan
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