Notes from the Paris auto show

Daimler chief checks out a hot rival

Posted 9:58 am U.S. ET, Oct. 3
It's always fun to watch CEOs check out the competition on the second press day of an auto show. Here's Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, after giving the Audi Quattro RS 6 the once-over. -- Larry Vellequette
Daimler chief checks out a hot rival
(LARRY VELLEQUETTE)
 

High-level briefing

Posted 9:47 am U.S. ET, Oct. 3
High-level briefing
(REUTERS)
 
French President Francois Hollande, center, receives a technology demonstration from Valeo CEO Jacques Aschenbroich, second from left, at the auto parts maker's display during an official visit to the Paris auto show on Friday.

The latest Smarts

Posted 5:07 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
The latest Smarts
(REUTERS)
 
The newest ForFour, left, and ForTwo, right, receive an introduction from Smart Automobile CEO Annette Winkler on Thursday at the Paris auto show.
 

The crossover stampede rolls on

Posted 5:01 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
The crossover stampede rolls on
(DAVE GUILFORD)
 
Crossovers keep getting sleeker, at least in concept form, as seen by Toyota's C-HR unveiled at the show on Thursday. There is widespread speculation the C-HR could inspire a new crossover for Scion to be sold in the U.S.

Wash in cold water, line dry

Posted 4:40 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
Wash in cold water, line dry
(LARRY VELLEQUETTE)
 
This denim-wrapped Fiat 500 is one of numerous special wraps the automaker is offering to allow customers to express their individuality. Of course, no word on whether it will shrink -- perhaps into a Smart ForTwo -- when washed and dried. -- Larry Vellequette

Parting words?

Posted 3:28 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
Parting words?
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Outgoing Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, left, and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, right, share a few words Thursday in the spotlight just weeks after Marchionne dismissed Montezemolo. With his trademark flair, sense of humor and wavy hair on display, Montezemolo earlier introduced a limited edition supercar at the Paris auto show but not without a veiled snub of Marchionne, who is replacing him. “I’ll see you all in Geneva,” Montezemolo told journalists, The Wall Street Journal reported, referring to the Swiss car show that takes place every March. “Between now and February Marchionne will realize he already has too much to do and will call me to come back. I’m happy to have a few months off between now and then.”

Peering in, Peugeot style

Posted 3:16 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
Peering in, Peugeot style
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Peugeot Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets get a test and workout in the Peugeot booth during the first day of media previews at the Paris auto show.


Nissan goes NISMO on the Pulsar

Posted 1:29 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
Nissan goes NISMO on the Pulsar
(LINDSAY CHAPPELL)
 
Nissan unveiled a proposed NISMO performance package for the new Europe-only Pulsar -- a hatch version of what sells in the United States as the Sentra. Nissan is seeking advice from automotive journalists on whether to produce the racing-trimmed and tuned model. Despite rising U.S. sales for the C-segment Sentra, and big U.S. demand for the B-segment Versa Note hatch, Nissan believes there would be inadequate stateside demand for the Pulsar.

Toyota tableau

Posted 12:54 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
Toyota tableau
(REUTERS)
 
An unidentified artist turns the side of a Toyota car into canvas to deliver an important message for visitors at the Paris auto show.

Outlander sports green shoots

Posted 12:41 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 2
Outlander sports green shoots
(REUTERS)
 
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko helped introduce the Outlander PHEV Concept-S Thursday at the Paris auto show.

The Blue Oval's latest

Posted 8:55 am U.S. ET, Oct. 2
The Blue Oval's latest
(REUTERS)
 
Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields helped introduce the new S-MAX on Thursday at the Paris auto show. He and other top Ford executives projected earlier this week the European light-vehicle market won't recover to precession levels anytime soon -- even before 2020.

It's all about the details

Posted 8:38 am U.S. ET, Oct. 2
It's all about the details
(GM)
 
Johan de Nysschen, the new head of Cadillac, left, and his boss, GM President Dan Ammann, right, stop at the BMW stand as part of a tour of the exhibits of key European luxury rivals at the Paris auto show on Thursday.

Samardzich on the big screen

Posted 6:44 am U.S. ET, Oct. 2
Samardzich on the big screen
(MIKE COLIAS)
 
Ford of Europe chief Barb Samardzich appears via video on the Ford stand to poke fun at the typical happy talk from execs during vehicle reveals. She said Ford is more than just talk, with 16 European launches planned for 2015, including the redesigned Mustang and S-Max, unveiled today.
-- Mike Colias

From boosting Renault to designing boats

Posted 6:36 am U.S. ET, Oct. 2
From boosting Renault to designing boats
(RICHARD JOHNSON)
 
You could argue that the reason Renault was able to shock the auto world in 1998 by acquiring Nissan was the emergence of a delightful Renault design language in the 1990s. And you could give credit for that look to the man shown here -- former Renault styling honcho Patrick Le Quement, the erstwhile Ford of Europe design boss.
To be more specific, the shape and package, and thus huge market success of the Megane Scenic in 1996 and 1997, pulled Renault out of its doldrums and gave it the wherewithal -- at just the right time -- to grab hold of a struggling Nissan.
Thus the theory: Without Le Quement,  the Frenchman with the pristine, upper-crust English accent, there would have been no Renault-Nissan alliance. So here was Le Quement, walking alone through Hall 2, looking nothing like a man who changed the global auto industry.
"I am retired," he said, when I caught up him aside. "I have begun a new life -- as a boat designer."
--Richard Johnson

TT buzz

Posted 4:02 am U.S. ET, Oct. 2
TT buzz
 
Third Audi TT variant -- and sign of how much Audi wants to rekindle TT buzz -- Sportback concept.
-- Dave Guilford

De Nysschen stops by

Posted 3:06 am U.S. ET, Oct. 2
De Nysschen stops by
(RICK JOHNSON)
 
We heard Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen would be in Paris, though perhaps lying low. And indeed there he was on the Opel stand this morning, a few minutes after visiting former colleagues at the Infiniti exhibit just a few steps away in Hall 5. At Infiniti, where de Nysschen was global man in charge until recently, he looked over the Q80 Inspiration concept car.
"I approve," he said.
--Richard Johnson

Lambo's newest green rocket

Posted 10:57 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
Lambo's newest green rocket
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann introduces the Lamborghini Asterion hybrid concept at Volkswagen AG's "Les Images Des Marques" media event on Wednesday ahead of formal press previews for the Paris auto show.

Mercedes flagship goes green

Posted 10:48 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
Mercedes flagship goes green
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche presents the Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-In hybrid during Mercedes-Benz media night at the Piscine Molitor in Paris prior to the opening of the Paris auto show on Wednesday.

The pony car bigfoots Toyota's subcompact

Posted 4:13 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
The pony car bigfoots Toyota's subcompact
(BLOOMBERG)
 
A poster pitching the redesigned Ford Mustang, left, is pasted over a Toyota Yaris ad near the Porte de Versailles metro station close to the venue for the Paris auto show on Wednesday.

New, lighter touches on Ford C-Max

Posted 2:36 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
New, lighter touches on Ford C-Max
 
Ford introduced a refreshed C-Max Wednesday in Paris with interior changes that mostly update the controls for the heating and ventilation system, and steering wheel. The exterior has undergone a very light, softer redesign.

The Green Greeter

Posted 1:53 pm U.S. ET, Oct. 1
The Green Greeter
(BLOOMBERG)
 
A delivery truck manufactured by Scania AB greets visitors in front of the gates to the Paris auto show on Wednesday. The show features 250 automakers from 18 countries.

On watch

Posted 7:06 am U.S. ET, Oct. 1
On watch
(RICHARD JOHNSON)
 
The Paris auto show ‎opens on Thursday -- the first press day, that is. On Wednesday, the guys with the red ties were on hand to make sure there were no early previews of the hardware inside.
-- Richard Johnson

Ready for a close-up

Posted 11:47 am U.S. ET, Sept. 30
Ready for a close-up
(REUTERS)
 
A Citroen C4 Cactus is prepped for display at French automaker Citroen's exhibit at the Paris auto show on Tuesday.

Paris preview

Posted 9:11 am U.S. ET, Sept. 30
Paris preview
(BLOOMBERG)
 
Media previews for the 2014 Paris auto show open Thursday and Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche offered an early look at what's to come when he helped unveil the racing-inspired Mercedes-AMG GT high-performance sports car this month in Affalterbach, Germany. Mercedes-Benz, seeking to become the world’s biggest maker of luxury vehicles again, is targeting potential Porsche buyers with the new top-of-the-line sports car that costs about half the price of its predecessor. The GT, developed by Mercedes' AMG performance unit, is powered by a 4.0-liter V-8 with output ratings of 510 hp or 462 hp. The car will arrive in dealerships in Europe in March. U.S. sales start in April, with prices expected to begin at $120,000.

Tech showcase in city of lights

Posted 8:00 am U.S. ET, Sept. 30
Tech showcase in city of lights
 
A bank of engines sit on display at French carmaker Citroen's exhibit as preparations for the Paris auto show continue on Tuesday. Self-driving vehicles and smartphone integration will be among the top features showcased at Europe’s biggest auto exhibition this year, even as industry executives focus on something that’s become increasingly hard to come by: buyers. Ford's top executives said Monday they no longer expect European light-vehicle sales to return to prerecession volume -- even by 2020. The Paris show will be open to the public from October 4 to October 19.


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