`The most significant Paris show in years.' That's what Ford of Europe product development chief Martin Leach called the 2000 Mondial de l'Automobile.
It truly was. Everywhere you looked was a crucial new production model or a concept car that pointed the way to the future. Meanwhile, industry leaders in Paris made lots of news. Here is our brand-by-brand report of the events of Paris 2000.
Alfa Romeo plans to build 100,000 units of the new 147 in 2001. The new model replaces both the 145 and 146, which together have been selling at an annual rate of 45,000. In total, Alfa expects to build almost 300,000 units in 2001. That compares with 208,300 in 1999 and 113,800 in 1996 - before the introduction of the successful 156.
Alfa will have a premium price strategy for the 147. While the 145 and 146 are in the middle range of the lower medium segment, the 147 points to the upper-medium segment. The Audi A3 and VW Golf GTI are its main targets.
The 147 will be launched in Italy in November, but only with a three-door body and 1.6- and 2.0-liter gasoline engines. Introduction in other European markets will follow in early 2001.
The 147 five-door will be shown at the Geneva auto show in March.
A 1.9-liter common-rail JTD turbodiesel engine will be available on all 147s next spring. The engine is equipped with a variable geometry turbine that takes the output to 110hp - 5hp more than the current version.
Fiat Auto Managing Director Roberto Testore said he expects 147 sales to be equally divided between three- and five-door versions. Diesel versions will account for 30-40 percent of the total.
In a presentation to financial analysts, Testore said the next new Alfas would be the Spider and GTV coupe replacements in 2003. A new engine range will debut between 2003 and 2005.
Audi unveiled a dramatic 4x4 concept car at Paris that proves it has ambitions to become a serious off-road brand.
Project Steppenwolf is a Golf-sized car that is designed to excel in rough terrain and extreme road conditions. But it is also viewed as a direct descendant of the Audi quattro and sport quattro product lines.
Steppenwolf is based on the Golf/A3 platform. Unlike the quattro and sport quattro, the new concept does not have a Torsen differential. A Torsen differential varies the power front to back, relative to grip. Rather the Steppenwolf follows the VW group's platform strategy by featuring the Haldex traction system. This 4x4 system was first introduced on the Golf 4motion. It adds rear-wheel traction electronically if required.
On normal road conditions Steppenwolf moves purely on front-wheel drive. The electronic differential system and the stability program assist if the car is trapped in tricky driving situations.
Powered by a 3.2-liter V-6 engine, delivering 225hp, Steppenwolf will be capable of exceeding 230kph. The car has a realistic chance of making it into production. Even though it has serious 4x4 credentials, it would also sell to lifestyle customers who may have previously bought a Toyota RAV4 or Suzuki Vitara.
The car's specialty is the four-level air suspension first introduced on the Audi allroad quattro, which allows an adjusted ground clearance off-road of up to 223mm and improved aerodynamics on-road at high speed.
The company calls the exterior of the car an evolution of Audi's current design approach, combining sportiness, elegance, functionality and geometric precision.
Two roofs are offered: A carbon-fiber hardtop or a textile softtop, both of which can be removed to offer convertible adaptibility.
Italy's Bertone and Edscha of Germany unveiled the KlappTop, a rigid roof that folds as easily as a softtop. The KlappTop was fitted to a BMW 3 series cabriolet.
Heuliez of France showed a similar solution, again on a 3 series. But the Heuliez project was not authorized by BMW, so BMW badges were replaced by Heuliez badges.
Carrozzeria Bertone Managing Director Bruno Cena said several carmakers are interested in the KlappTop, but there are no immediate plans to put the system into production.
Only two-seat cars such as the Mercedes-Benz SLK and the Peugeot 206CC currently offer rigid roofs that fold completely into the trunk.
The KlappTop system tries to extend this solution to a four-seat car. The rigid roof folds in two parts before being inserted in the trunk. One drawback is that the roof takes up almost the entire trunk space when folded down, leaving little space for luggage.
Edscha, one of Europe's largest open-top makers, worked for over 12 months on the KlappTop system. Bertone was asked to fit the KlappTop on a 3 series cabriolet.
This year, Bertone will build 25,000 BMW C1 motorcycles and 30,000 Opel/Vauxhall Astra coupes. Production of theAstra cabriolet will start in November.
Bertone's final lot of 5,000 Fiat Punto Mk1 cabriolets was completed in July. There are no plans for a convertible version of the new Punto.
Longtime BMW purchasing boss Wilhelm Becker will head the company's new small-car project.
In his new job, Becker will be responsible for both the small car, often referred to as the '2 series,' and the next 3 series.
Becker's replacement as head of production materials purchasing is Gerhard Schuff, a senior executive in the company's purchasing operations.
Becker said the name of the small car has not been decided. He said that '1 series' and '2 series' are candidates. The new car is expected to debut in 2004.
Becker has spent his entire career at BMW in purchasing and logistics positions. He said: 'This is a new challenge for me.'
BMW AG Chairman Joachim Milberg wants to move quickly to break up the BMW/ Rover/Land Rover dealer structure.
Milberg said the situation is especially difficult in Germany, where the dealer group integration was most advanced. BMW wanted selected German dealers to sell BMW, Rover and Land Rover brands under one roof.
But that strategy was abandoned when BMW sold Rover to Phoenix Consortium and Land Rover to Ford in May.
Many German Rover dealers threatened to sue BMW.
'But to my knowledge not one lawsuit has been filed,' Milberg said.
The new Mini will be sold worldwide through BMW dealer networks. But in the USA, for example, not all BMW dealers will necessarily qualify for Mini sales.
'We have not finalized our strategy yet. The market needs are very different in city and rural areas of the USA,' Milberg said.
The Mini will require careful positioning, Milberg said. 'We have to do more than just launch a product, we have to develop a brand image,' he said.
'This image should stand for excitement, emotion, youth and freshness. In Germany and Japan the Mini already enjoys cult status. But in some areas of the UK, for example, it still stands for basic transportation.
The Mini is an important stage in our re-focused company strategy,' said Milberg 'In addition to the BMW brand, the Mini will round up our premium offer in the small-car segment - and Rolls-Royce will round it up in the high-end segment.'
BMW's Chief Financial
Officer Helmut Panke is currently in charge of sales and marketing. But that role is temporary.
Milberg said: 'We will have a new board member for sales and marketing eventually, and we will make an announcement at an appropriate time.'
Citroen plans a slow ramp-up for its new C5 flagship sedan.
The goal of 900 units daily will be reached in late 2001, said Citroen General Manager Claude Satinet. That total includes the station wagon version, due to be introduced in mid-2001.
Both sedan and wagon will be built at the PSA/Peugeot-Citroen plant in Rennes, France. The previous Xantia wagon, to be replaced by the C5, has been manufactured by French coachbuilder Heuliez.
Concern about quality is the main reason for the relatively slow production build-up.
'We must be very careful,' said Satinet, who is haunted by the XM launch failure in 1989.
The C5 was initially planned to go on sale this autumn. But its launch has been delayed to early 2001 to ensure no manufacturing problem spoils the debut.
The C5 wagon will be unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March 2001.
Citroen also showed its revised Xsara at Paris. The lower-medium model was on display in three different body styles: hatchback, coupe and station wagon.
The main changes are to the exterior. The new Xsara has a new hood, grille and bigger, oblong headlamps.
Citroen will increase global sales by nearly 50 percent within six years, said General Manager Claude Satinet.
He said the PSA brand would entirely renew its model range and brand identity by then.
Speaking at the C5 launch at Longchamp race course, Satinet said he expects sales to reach 1.5 million units by 2006 or 2007.
'I'm pursuing this goal with fierce determination,' he said.
Citroen sales reached 1,017,000 units in 1999 and are likely hit 1.1 million this year.
Sales rose 14 percent to 590,000 in the first half of 2000.
Satinet expects to increase sales outside western Europe from 130,000 this year to 200,000 by about 2003.
'Brazil will contribute as well as China,' he said.
PSA's new plant near Rio de Janeiro will begin production of the Citroen Xsara Picasso in early 2001.
Citroen's joint venture with Dong Feng Auto Works in Wuhan, China, is the company's largest manufacturing operation outside western Europe.
The new upper-medium C5 will play a key role in the global sales strategy.
Citroen expects to sell 200,000 units per year in 2002, 70 percent outside France.
The C5 replaces both the Xantia and XM in the Citroen model lineup. The Xantia will continue to be built for an indefinite
period. Satinet said PSA/Peugeot-Citroen invested e1.05 billion in the new range model.
Jean-Pierre Ploue, the 37-year-old who succeeded Art Blakeslee as Citroen's design director last year, made a bold debut with the Osmose concept car. (See photo, above.)
'We wanted to bring together two conflicting elements - the automobile and the human being,' said Ploue.
The Osmose features a central driving position and three front seats - two of which can be folded into the car's floor. The Osmose also has an open rear end, allowing passengers to jump in and out when it stops. The concept uses a hybrid drive system with solar panels providing an additional source of energy.
Osmose is not intended for production but Ploue said: 'It shows that we are willing to look into the future.
Wim Oude Weernink
Ferrari's new 550 Barchetta Pininfarina will cost e188,130 in Europe and $245,000 in the USA - including delivery but not local sales taxes.
Ferrari will build 448 units of the two-seat spider. It plans to ship 130-140 units to the USA and 70 to Germany. The rest of the world will get about 250 units.
'[The spread of] these numbers could change marginally because, as with the F50, we will try to prevent speculative purchases,' said Andrea Zappia, Ferrari sales and marketing director. 'We want the cars to be bought by people who will retain them for a reasonable amount of time and not just resell them immediately to make a profit.'
A second-hand F50 can still be sold for its original sticker price of e440,000. With perfect versions, a 10 percent profit can be made. The F50 was built between 1995 and 1997. A total of 349 units were made.
The 550 Barchetta Pininfarina is Ferrari's first frontengined V-12 softtop since the 365 GTB/4 Daytona spider
of 1969. The new car was designed and engineered by Pininfarina, and is being built by Ferrari in Maranello, Italy, along with the 550 Maranello coupe.
The launch of Fiat's planned compact sport-utility vehicle will be delayed following Fiat's tie-up with General Motors and DaimlerChrysler's link with Mitsubishi Motors.
'Our initial plan was to launch it in early 2002 using a Mitsubishi running gear,' Testore said. 'We are currently reviewing what GM affiliates could offer us in terms of running gear - mainly Suzuki and Isuzu.
Subaru's 4WD system is not compatible with our diesel engines.
'We would like to maintain our original styling, which was already frozen,' he said, 'but it depends on the platform we use.'
Next summer, Fiat will launch the second generation of its full-size Ulysse minivan. A new version of the Lancia derivative, the Z, will also be launched. The new minivans have again been developed in cooperation with PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and will be built at the Sevel Nord plant near Valenciennes, France.
Testore said Fiat Auto plans to build around 2.5 million units this year, compared with 2,353,000 in 1999. He said: 'We have achieved good results in Brazil, Italy and Turkey. But things did not go as well as we hoped in Argentina, India, Russia and Poland.'
Declining sales have forced Fiat Auto to kill off several niche vehicles.
The Fiat Punto Mk I cabriolet, Fiat Coupe, Lancia K coupe and station wagon have all been discontinued.
Fiat Auto niche vehicles still in production in Italy are the Alfa Romeo Spider and GTV coupe.
Production of those two cars has just been moved from Alfa's Arese plant to Pininfarina.
The Fiat Barchetta is also still alive. That car is built by Maggiora in Chivasso, near Turin.
Fiat Auto says there are no plans to replace the Punto cabriolet or the K coupe. The Barchetta will also not be replaced when it is eventually discontinued.
There will be a new Alfa Spider in 2003, followed by a new coupe - but that car will be no more than a closed-roof spider.
It is also expected that the Fiat Coupe will be replaced, but probably not until around 2002.
Ford officials are keeping quiet about their plans for a next generation Ka, their smallest product in Europe. Asked whether there is a project team working on the next Ka, Ford officials refused to give a firm answer. But Martin Leach, Ford's European vice president of product development, said: 'Ka is very important to us - 71 percent of Ka customers are new to Ford. The logic of Ka is irrefutable.'
The Ka customer base is also biased toward females. Leach said he has formed an advanced product group of 25 people at Ford's Dunton, England, product development center where projects such as Ka will be studied.
Some supplier sources have been saying Ka will not be continued as an independent product and that it will appear in its next generation as a basic Fiesta with different body cladding. The current Ka gets a number of improvements for 2001, including a 1.3-liter Endura gasoline engine in some markets and five new colors.
The Mondeo will be the standard-bearer for Ford's European transformation. The car epitomizes the qualities Ford now wants to be known for: dependable, contemporary and driving quality, said Ford of Europe chairman Nick Scheele.
These words will not be used in advertising campaigns, but they are known internally to all Ford employees by the term 'DCDQ.' The term originated in discussions between Leach and European marketing chief Earl Hesterberg.
Ford's brand has been inconsistent across Europe, having a strong image in countries such as the UK and a weak image in others, including Germany.
l Ford and PSA/PeugeotCitroen announced they will cooperate in the growing field of in-vehicle communications, known as telematics. Jac Nasser and Jean-Martin Folz, chief executives of the two companies, made the announcement at a Paris restaurant. The two companies have already announced a diesel engine joint venture.
l The new Mondeo is the first European car designed with Ford's C3P computer development system, which allows engineers around the world to work on products simultaneously, thus eliminating one prototype stage.
The Mondeo was developed in 24 months, 12 months less than Ford's previous average. Ford of Europe President David Thursfield said development time for the next Fiesta, due in late 2001, will be 21 months. Slow development times have been one key reason Ford's products have lagged behind competitors in Europe and left the company's products looking dated.
The all-new Civic debuted in five-door form in Paris. It will be produced at Honda's Swindon, England, plant from early next year.
Initial annual output will be 70,000 to 80,000. The plant will also build a three-door version starting in autumn 2001. Swindon will be the only Honda plant worldwide to make the three-door Civic.
'We will export that car to Japan in numbers that will depend on demand,' said Honda Motor Europe spokesman Takeshi Sumita.
Honda lacks a diesel Civic, but could eventually offer one late next year, said Minoru Harada, president of Honda Europe.
Wim Oude Weernink
Giugiaro Design, Italdesign-Giugiaro's industrial design subsidiary, styled the Be-Up for France's Automobiles Ligier.
The two-seat Be Up is half car, half scooter. It is expected to cost between e6,500-e7,000 - the same price as BMW's C1 motorcycle.
Italdesign-Giugiaro didn't have a stand at Paris, and Fiat Auto decided not to show the restyled Palio world car range, designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
Jaguar didn't have any new cars at Paris. Instead, it highlighted safety and technology - two priority areas for Ford's UK luxury brand.
'We're moving away from wood and leather elements,' said Jonathan Browning, Jaguar's managing director.
Browning doesn't mean that Jaguar is going to forget about its traditional virtues. But Jaguar is trying to get back to the cutting edge of technology that made it an industry leader during its golden era.
'We're emphasizing things such as adaptive cruise control, voice activation and security systems,' said Browning.
Jaguar showed its 2001 XK series cars that feature new ultrasonic occupant protection systems. The adaptive restraint technology uses the sensors to determine the height, weight and position of passengers.
Jaguar is also getting its Halewood, England, plant ready for production of the X400 - or 'Baby Jag.' Browning said Jaguar has already put workers through 500,000 hours of off-job training in preparation for Job One next year.
Russian carmaker AvtoVAZ showed a highly individual vision of the future at Paris.
The Lada Peter Turbo is named after Russian czar Peter the Great. It is based on the platform of the front-wheel-drive Lada 110 sedan and is powered by a 2.0-liter, 16-valve turbocharged engine.
Private distributors are fighting hard to retain Lada's presence in selected western European countries. In the first eight months of this year, just 7,000 Ladas were sold across the region.
Together with the two-seat roadster that was shown at the Moscow auto show in August, Lada is clearly hoping for better times. Lada celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
Wim Oude Weernink
Paris provided Fiat Auto with its first opportunity to assess reaction to the Lancia Nea concept car. The Nea previews a possible successor to the Delta, which was discontinued in summer 1999. The production car would rival the Audi A3, and appear in 2003.
Lancia is currently without a model to fit between the Y supermini and the Lybra lower luxury car.
Roberto Testore, Fiat Auto's managing director, said: 'Clinics with owners showed the Lybra is perceived as a true Lancia. [Following the Paris show] we also want to evaluate the impact of the Nea on Lancia customers.'
At Paris Lancia also showed a face-lift of the Y, the supermini that accounts for almost 70 percent of Lancia's total production.
The e10 million update includes new bumpers and front grille, revised headlamps and rear lights, plus new interior trim. Lancia plans to make 110,000 units of the Y this year, of which over 70 percent will be sold in Italy.
In mid-2001 Lancia will introduce project 841 to replace the K. Inspired by the Dialogos concept car, this 5000mm-long flagship will move upscale nearer to the upper-luxury segment. The current K is a medium-luxury model.
Next year Lancia will also replace the Z minivan. The Y supermini will be replaced in 2002.
Lexus is making a major effort to increase its presence in Europe's premium car segments.
With the exception of the IS200, all the cars on Lexus' Paris stand were new. The RX300, Lexus' new sport-utility, is currently being launched across Europe. Lexus expects sales of 5,000 units next year.
The LS430 is a new edition of Lexus' outgoing LS luxury sedan. It comes with a 4.3-liter, 282hp V-8 engine. Annual sales of 1,500 units are planned. The model will be introduced in Europe later this year.
In addition to 2,400 units of the modified GS300 sports sedan, Lexus expects to sell 800 units of the new GS430. That car is equipped with the LS430's V-8 engine. Lexus' sales objective for its BMW 3 series rival, the IS200, is 12,500 - similar to this year's figure.
Wim Oude Weernink
Maserati will re-enter the US market by the end of next year, said Stuart Robinson, chairman of newly established Maserati North America.
Robinson, who is also chairman of Ferrari North America, said the USA would absorb 40 percent of Maserati's annual production by 2005. By that time, Maserati will be building 9,000 units a year.
Maserati is spending e25 million to expand its Viale Ciro Menotti facilities in Modena, Italy. There will be a new office building, a new showroom with a dedicated area for delivering cars to customers, and a new engine machining line. The work will be completed by 2004.
Maserati sold 1,493 units in the first eight months of the year - up 55 percent on the year-ago period. For the whole year, Maserati expects to sell more than 2,000 units - its highest sales since 1990.
Maserati introduced a new color at Paris, Rosso Mondiale (or 'World Red'). The Italian super-luxury carmaker wanted to recreate the bodywork color of the Maserati 250 F that won the Formula One driver championship in 1957. That car was driven by the legendary Manuel Fangio.
But despite Maserati's best efforts, the new color is not exactly the same as the original one. Maserati said: 'It was impossible to achieve with modern paint technology.'
Matra Automobile was at the Paris show for the first time since 1986. The French assembler showed a two-seat concept vehicle with an aluminum chassis called the M72.
Powered by a two-cylinder, 750cc gasoline engine linked to a CVT (continuously variable transmission), the M72 looks like a small buggy and can be driven by 16-year-olds in a number of countries, such as France.
The M72 'has been designed from the beginning to be easily produced,' said Matra spokesman Enzo Garavelloni. 'We will use the Paris show to test its commercial potential. If we decide to make it, it could be distributed by Renault.'
Matra's future is uncertain. By the end of the year, it will start making Renault's Avantime coupe, but this won't be enough to offset the expected end of Espace production in 2002.
Renault has decided to make the fourth generation Espace at its own plant in Sandouville, France. Sources say that in addition to the Avantime and M72, a third, new vehicle could be made by Matra.
DaimlerChrysler will unveil the first of two new products to be built at its Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA, at the Detroit auto show in January. Both cars will be based on the next generation M-class platform.
Jurgen Hubbert, head of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, wouldn't say whether the new crossover vehicle would be launched before or after the M-class successor. He said neither the new vehicle nor the next M-class would compete with any Chrysler or Jeep products.
'With cars developed before the [DaimlerChrysler] merger we have just 6 percent substitution between M-class and Jeep,' Hubbert said. 'And we will make sure that we do not address the same people.' But DaimlerChrysler's acquisition of a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors will change the product strategy.
'What we wanted to do with Chrysler - expand into the mass market and the small-car segment - we will now do with Mitsubishi.'
European sales of the Mercedes-Benz C-class Sportscoupe begin next spring, followed by a US launch for the 2002 model year. The new hatchback, which made its debut in Paris, is designed to attract younger customers - and more female drivers - to the Mercedes-Benz brand. On paper it competes with high end VW Golfs, and the BMW 3 series Compact, but in reality the Sportscoupe has no direct rivals. DaimlerChrysler said it is expecting to win sales from a wide spectrum of other marques and models.
BMW AG's new Mini will go on sale in the UK in summer 2001; in the rest of Europe in autumn 2001; and in the USA in the first quarter of 2002, said Helmut Panke, BMW board member in charge of finance, sales and marketing.
The US market will get two versions of the Mini: the Mini Cooper and the Mini Cooper S. Both will be powered by 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engines, built in Brazil by a joint venture with DaimlerChrysler.
In other markets, parent BMW AG will also offer a base Mini with the same engine. The base model will not be offered in the USA. For markets outside the USA, the Mini will eventually add a 1.4-liter engine, said Wolfgang Volluth, Mini project manager.
According to preliminary figures, the 1.6-liter engine in the base Mini will produce about 90hp, Volluth said. In addition to a higher level of trim and equipment, the Mini Cooper has more computer-managed functions and a different air intake and exhaust manifold, which increase maximum power to about 115hp, he said.
The Mini Cooper S gets a supercharged version of the Mini Cooper engine, with maximum power of about 160hp, Volluth said. The Mini Cooper S will also get more muscular styling.
Worldwide capacity for the Mini plant in Oxford, England, is expected to be 100,000 per year.
Neither the Mini nor the future BMW small sedan will sell in big numbers, said Burkhard Goeschel, board member for research and development.
'We do not want to sell too many,' Goeschel said. 'Neither car will be mass volume.'
For the Mini, peak sales volume of 100,000 units per year is planned. Volume for the small BMW - the so-called '2 series''- will be about the same, he said.
But the cars will be profitable, he said. 'With both cars we will be in the premium segment, where you can ask higher prices and earn more profit per car,' he said. The Mini goes on sale next year. The small lower-medium sedan is expected in 2004.
With the launch of the five-door Pinin, Mitsubishi expects to increase sales of the Pininfarina-built compact sport-utility to 20,000-25,000 in 2001.
'The compact sport-utility segment has moved toward five-door models recently,' said Hans Tolenaar, vice president of Mitsubishi Motor Sales Europe.
The three-door Pinin suffers some from limited cargo space as well as a too-sophisticated Super Select four-wheel-drive system, company officials say.
Mitsubishi also lacks a diesel version - important for southern European markets. A diesel-powered Pinin is under consideration.
'If we can offer a diesel, we might eventually fully use Pininfarina's 40,000-unit production capacity.'
Wim Oude Weernink
The Nissan Micra has received a final face-lift before an all-new model arrives in 2002.
Shown in Paris for the first time, the revised Micra features a bigger 1.4-liter engine, a torque converter for the continuously variable transmission and some minor styling changes. Total sales volume is expected to be 125,000 units next year, compared with about 150,000 in 2000.
The X-trail sport-utility was still officially a concept model in Paris. But the final production version, due in autumn 2001, won't be much different.
With the X-trail, Nissan is targeting the Land Rover Freelander, Mitsubishi Pinin and Toyota RAV4. Nissan also says the X-trail will rival the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V.
Wim Oude Weernink
General Motors may rename the Vectra when the car is replaced. 'I like the name, but we need to study whether to change it,' said Opel Chairman Bob Hendry.
He said the Vectra has never recovered from quality problems that plagued the 1996 launch of the current model.
'It's hard to come back from that kind of thing,' said Hendry.
Vectra sales continue to fall. Soon it will have several new competitors in the upper-medium segment, including the next generation Ford Mondeo and Renault Laguna, and the face-lifted Volkswagen Passat.
The Vectra name debuted in most of Europe in 1988, when the Opel Ascona was replaced.
Opel's new Corsa is based on General Motors' all-new Gamma platform.
One of the platform's main features is a floorpan that is 80mm wider than the previous Corsa's. The front axle is set 48mm further forward, improving leg space in the front.
The platform also allowed the power steering mechanism to be moved from the firewall to the subframe, creating more room for air conditioning. The longer and redesigned front end can better comply with the tough Euro NCAP four-star crash test rating.
'It all made the bare body structure some 20kg heavier, but torsional rigidity has improved by 33 percent,' said Hans Demant, head of Opel's technical development center in Russelsheim.
Demant said Opel is studying the option of a high-architecture vehicle in the Corsa segment.
'It is a logical development, although it would be unique in the segment,' he said.
Opel sources say that such a model would not be a traditional minivan, but a Berlingo-style panel van.
Wim Oude Weernink
The cost of a diesel engine will start to match that of a gasoline engine in Europe as diesel sales continue to rise, said Bruno de Guibert, Peugeot vice president for product planning.
Peugeot introduced the 206 HDI Eco at Paris, a car that already achieves the 2008 target for fuel efficiency with 4.5 liters of consumption per 100km.
Alongside the HDI Eco the 206CC, featuring a folding hard top, also debuted.
'We strongly believe in diesel engines for small cars. The 1.4-liter capacity engine we are developing with Ford will appear in 2002. I think that the balance between diesel and gasoline engines in Europe will go in favor of diesel. This trend will also bring converging prices between the two kinds of engines,' said de Guibert.
The Peugeot product boss is equally convinced that small cars cannot be profitable if they are just scaled down versions of larger cars.
De Guibert said: 'We do not believe in reduced cars. The VW Lupo, for example, is 10 percent shorter than a Polo but uses the same engines and components and remains too expensive.'
Ferrari unveiled the 550 Barchetta Pininfarina, styled and engineered by Pininfarina. Mitsubishi sh-owed the five-door version of the Pajero Pinin compact sport-utility, built by Pininfarina at its new plant in Bairo Canavese, Italy.
Though Pininfarina didn't have a new concept car at the show, its most recent ones were honored. The Metrocubo, seen at the September 1999 Frankfurt auto show, won the Michelin Challenge Bibendum award for best technological design. The Rossa, the Ferrari 550 Maranello-based spider seen at the Turin show in June, was named concept car of the year by Automotive News Europe sister publication Automotive News International. The Rossa also finished second in the best exterior design category.
Porsche unveiled a surprise fourth major model in concept form, the 10-cylinder Carrera GT, at the Louvre museum.
President and CEO Wendelin Wiedeking was guarded about whether a production model will follow, but it was plain that Wiedeking has every intention of building the Carrera GT.
He said if it is approved, it would be built starting in 2003. The sticker price will top e350,000. Wiedeking said it would take a minimum of only 500 units over the entire life cycle of the model to justify the expense. In Porsche terms, the product life cycle is probably at least eight years. The other major Porsche models are the Boxster, the 911, and the upcoming Cayenne sport-utility, due in 2002.
The all-wheel-drive Carrera GT has a normally-aspirated V-10 that makes 558hp. A video at the press conference showed it hitting a top speed of 341kph.
'There is no doubt that the high end of the market will grow. Even if it grows tenfold, we at Porsche will still be in the lead. We are in the pole position for credibility, for fascination and technical competence,' said board member Hans Riedel.
Wiedeking dismissed other automakers entering the super-sports car market: 'Customers look to us for a product like this. It is a question of competence, a question of competition. Our intent is to compete with the others at the high end.'
Porsche may add two more models to its lineup after the launch of the Cayenne sport-utility in 2002, said Chairman Wendelin Wiedeking.
'There is no doubt that we have to think about a fourth product line - and even about a fifth,' Wiedeking said in an interview with Automotive News Europe in Paris. 'If you want to improve your stock price, you need to grow. So we are looking at other segments and opportunities to broaden the Porsche brand.'
The Cayenne will take Porsche's production to almost 80,000 units a year in 2003. This year, Porsche will build about 49,000 cars. The majority will be made at its factory in Zuffenhausen, Germany, which builds 911s and Boxsters. Valmet in Finland will build the rest - about 16,000 Boxsters.
Porsche will make the Cayenne at a new factory in Leipzig, Germany. The plant will initially build 25,000 units a year.
'But Leipzig is a big site with a lot of space and potential,' said Wiedeking. 'We have already obtained agreement to add a paint shop and a body shop, if we want.'
The Cayenne will not need paint or body shop facilities because painted body panels will be shipped in from VW's plant in Bratislava, Slovakia. VW will build its own version of the Cayenne in Bratislava.
Cayenne production at Leipzig will involve final assembly of parts delivered just-in-time from other VW factories, Porsche's Zuffenhausen plant, and suppliers. Although developed and manufactured partly with Volkswagen, the Cayenne will be an authentic Porsche, said Wiedeking.
'The [Porsche and VW] cars will be completely different models,' he said. 'They will have individual designs and different engines. They will not share suspension systems, and parts of the drivetrain will also be different.'
Wiedeking expects the USA to account for 70 percent of Cayenne sales.
Renault has announced a new three-year plan to save FF20 billion (E3 billion) through 2003. It follows an earlier cost reduction plan that covered the years from 1998 to 2000 and cut E3 billion from purchasing and marketing costs.
Louis Schweitzer, chairman and CEO, and Pierre-Alain De Smedt, executive vice president in charge of engineering, manufacturing and purchasing, unveiled the new program.
The savings will be equally split over the three years at e1 billion per year. 'It will be the equivalent of saving FF8,000 (e1,230) per car by 2003,' said Schweitzer. He estimated the benefits brought by the Renault-Nissan alliance would account for 15 percent of the e3 billion total, or e450 million.
Around 50 percent of the savings will be made in purchasing, compared with 55 percent of the total in the 1998-2000 plan. That includes the impact of Renault's participation in Covisint, the US-based Internet purchasing network.
'Some fantastic savings figures will appear. We think it's difficult to measure the impact. We think that savings of $200 to $300 per car are possible [with Covisint],' said Schweitzer.
The other big area for savings is in marketing, sales and distribution, which make up 21 percent of the total. Cuts will be made to advertising, logistics and storage costs.
The merger of Renault and Nissan dealer networks in Europe will also contribute to the plan. Schweitzer said that dealer margins per car would be reduced while dealer profitability should improve.
Renault plans to use Nissan manufacturing methods extensively in its own European plants. Schweitzer said: 'Our goal is to go from a standard 15 hours to assemble one car to 12.5 hours by 2003.'
There won't be much cross-badging between Renault and Nissan passenger cars in Europe, said Schweitzer. 'To make and sell the same car under the two brands is a risk more than an advantage,' he said.
Renault's new Laguna was among the stars of Paris. It appeared in sedan and wagon versions - the latter being a much more individual car than the previous Laguna wagon.
Rolls-Royce and Bentley
Bentley didn't have any new cars at Paris, but it did show an extended wheelbase Arnage limousine designed to showcase the 'commissioning skills of the craftspeople at the Crewe, England, plant.'
The handcrafted interior was the highlight. The rear seat featured a curved 'bridge' console featuring bird's-eye maple veneer laid over solid maple with cherry cross banding and chromed brass center lines. The rear seat featured fiber-optic mood lighting.
The design was the work of 24-year-old Brett Boydell, a design student at Coventry University in England. Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialize in custom-building cars.
Designer Michael Mauer's mark wasn't on Saab Automobile's lineup at the Paris auto show. You won't even see it when Saab launches the next generation 9-3, expected in 2002.
But Mauer, Saab's new design director, promises his vision of Saab will emerge soon.
The first evidence of his influence will be a concept car -probably in the next year - and eventually in any Saab vehicle debuting after the next 9-3. 'In the future regarding Saab, everything is possible,' Mauer says.
The quietly-spoken German left DaimlerChrysler to join Saab in May on the condition that he - and not just the manufacturing and engineering people - would be a key voice in product development at Saab. As a result, Mauer reports to just one boss, CEO Peter Augustsson, and is the first designer in years to be a member of Saab's management team.
Mauer, previously the head of design for DaimlerChrysler's Smart, says he has been in too many situations where there were too many levels of management between him and the ultimate decision maker.
Augustsson says he wants Mauer to infuse more radical styling into the Saab lineup. He says recent Saab designs such as the 9-5 have been a bit too conservative.
'Saab should never be conservative,' Augustsson says.
Meanwhile, the expansion of Saab's line-up over the next five years has Saab searching for more creative talent for Mauer's team.
'It's not more expensive to make good cars, from a styling perspective,' says Augustsson. 'It's about competence.'
Equipped with a 3.0-liter flat-six engine and four-wheel drive, the Legacy Outback Wagon is Subaru's flagship model.
The Legacy Outback Wagon made its European debut in Paris. It tops the current four-cylinder Legacy range of sedans and wagons and will be priced between e30,000-e40,000.
But the Legacy Outback Wagon won't add much to Subaru's sales volume in Europe. Subaru is only expecting annual European sales of about 4,000 units.
Wim Oude Weernink
Suzuki's new Ignis will be available in two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive forms. The Japanese carmaker claims the four-wheel-drive version has off-road capabilities and the highest ground clearance in its class.
Equipped with three or five doors, the Ignis is 3620mm long and sits on a 2360mm wheelbase. It looks like a typical small hatchback but offers generous interior space thanks to its tall architecture.
The Ignis is powered by a new all-alloy 1.3-liter engine that generates 83hp.
'I expect the big volume will come from the two-wheel-drive version,' said David Farquhar, spokes-man for Suzuki GB.
Suzuki expects Ignis to sell 30,000 units in Europe in a full year. About 80 percent will be two-wheel-drive versions.
Wim Oude Weernink
Toyota plans to follow the launch of its Prius hybrid car in Europe with a range of more eco-friendly models.
Toyota Chairman Hiroshi Okuda said a hybrid version of the Previa minivan could go on sale in Europe in autumn 2001.
'We are currently working on the development of hybrid systems for mini vehicles, luxury cars and sport-utilities,' said Okuda.
With the Prius, which went on sale in Europe last month, Toyota was the first carmaker to offer a mass-produced car using an internal combustion engine and an electric motor working in combination. Prius emissions are 50 per cent lower than the 2005 European standard.
Toyota's hybrid system is unique because of its automatic regulation of electric drive, combustion engine traction and energy regeneration. Toyota may sell the system, or license it, to other carmakers.
'No one has applied for it yet -but one day they might have to come to us because our system is unique,' said Okuda.
Daihatsu, the small-car brand of the Toyota group, may offer a hybrid mini model next year in Japan. It is not known when that car will arrive in Europe.
Okuda said: 'First, we have to gain experience with it in Japan.'
Wim Oude Weernink
Volkswagen is aiming to develop an ultra fuel-efficient '1-liter' car by 2004.
The vehicle - a basic version of the Lupo -would cover 100km on a single liter of fuel.
Between 300kg and 400kg would have to be cut from the current Lupo's weight to offer any chance of reaching the 1-liter goal. The weight reduction would involve extensive use of carbon fiber technology.
'This is an important project that we will use as a learning process,' said Detlev Wittig, Skoda's sales chief, speaking on behalf of the group at the VW dinner in Paris. 'The problem is achieving the fuel-efficiency target while also making the car economically viable.'
VW admits the 1-liter target may not be achievable, but Chairman Ferdinand Pi'ch sees it as a goal toward which VW's engineers can aim. 'Maybe we will end up with an affordable 2-liter car, which would be a great achievement,' said Wittig.
Another source said VW is also developing a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that will stand up to the high torque of TDI diesel engines.
Volkswagen's platform strategy does not create brand confusion and cannibalization, said VW sales and marketing boss Robert Buchelhofer.
He refuted criticism that by basing VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars on the same platforms the brands are taking sales from each other.
'There is no cannibalization among our brands,' said Buchelhofer, a member of VW's management board. 'That is a tale of analysts and journalists.'
He said the VW group's combined market share in western Europe has gone from 15.8 percent in 1994 to 18.8 percent in 1999. This year, from January through August, the group share is 18.5 percent.
'Our world is intact if - at the bottom line - we obtain a positive conquest rate compared with our competitors,' he said.
Buchelhofer said he wouldn't worry even if one brand lost market share significantly while another brand in the group gained.
'Our shareholders couldn't care less which models of which brands earn our money,' he said. 'What matters is that our multibrand strategy is successful as a whole.'
He said the VW group enjoys customer loyalty above the 48.8 percent average measured in Europe last year.
Loyalty was 53.4 percent for the VW brand, and 60.8 percent for all VW group brands, he said.
VW showcased its refreshed Passat at Paris against a raft of new upper-medium competitors. Skoda also gave its Octavia a mid-life face-lift.
Volvo hinted at what a future high-performance S60 sedan might look like with its 'laser blue' Performance Concept Car. The car features an electronically managed four-wheel-drive system powered by a 300hp, five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
Volvo is touting the Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept, a system it developed with Ohlins Racing, a Swedish developer of high technology damper systems. The system's microprocessor monitors the position of each wheel 500 times a second, assessing the degree of grip and adjusting the damping characteristics accordingly. The chassis can be set in three modes: comfort, sport and advanced sport.
Volvo officials said they have not decided whether to make the PCC, as it is known. But they said it will help steer them toward a high-performance version of the S60 in the future.
Volvo also introduced a new communication service called Volvo On Call. When an accident occurs, an on-board telephone automatically sends a message to an alarm center that reports where the accident has occurred and when.
In Europe, Volvo On Call will work through a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) network. Volvo officials like to compare the system to the black box found on aircraft. The system can also be used to trigger an assault alarm or track a stolen car.
The system works off Volvo's Multiplex electrical system, a series of computer networks. The Multiplex system was launched in S80 two years ago. Volvo On Call will be introduced in December in Sweden and the USA. Major European countries will follow in 2001 and 2002.
u Volvo unveiled its new common-rail diesel engine which will replace a unit it buys from Volkswagen. The 2.4-liter, five-cylinder,163hp engine will be available in the S80, V70 and S60 by spring 2001.