Panic is probably too strong a word for the atmosphere at the Mondiale de l’Automobile in Paris this year, but to say that it was pervaded by fear and uncertainty on the part of industry executives is actually a considerable understatement.
Whether Asian, American or European, car makers were facing a mass of unknowns, ranging from the probable future of fuel prices to the possibility that economic collapse throughout the world might simply remove a significant proportion of clients who might be expected to buy new cars during the next year.
Among the ninety vehicles making their first motor show appearance were a significant number of highly important mainstream cars: in the most popular category, Renault Mégane 3, VW Golf 6, and Ford Fiesta and a few that want to be, like the Chevrolet Cruze (on the new General Motors Delta 2 platform), Hyundai i20 and Kia Soul.
In the city-suburban category there were some key models as well: Alfa Romeo MiTo, Ford Ka, Suzuki Alto and Toyota iQ all seem to have a promising future.
The semi-utility body style known variously as break, station wagon or tourer was well represented, with a spectacular show car from Mercedes, the Fascination, probably the first-ever pillarless vehicle of this kind.
Cadillac, with the CTS, and BMW, Audi and others have all put some effort into the style and presentation of wagons.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 173