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Paris show: Automotive newbies strut Paris stage

Centre stage: China’s GAC launched its new GS5 medium SUV at the Paris show on a huge stand slotted between the displays of Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

GAC and VinFast get prime time at Paris show as top motor companies stay home

4 Oct 2018


TWO Asian motor companies with no western market presence made it onto the press presentation schedule on the first morning of the Paris motor show this week as several of the world’s biggest motor companies shunned the show this year.
Such was the dearth of new metal at the show that China’s GAC Motor and Vietnamese start-up VinFast were both welcomed with open arms by the show organisers who gave them prime real estate in the display halls and slotted them in between presentations by giants such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Ferrari on the show agenda.
GAC (Guangzhou Automobile Corporation), which has been appearing at major motor shows ahead of a planned push into the United States market, launched its new GS5 medium SUV at the show on Tuesday, even though it has no sales channel in Europe and no immediate plans to establish one there.
The huge GAC stand, loaded with cars nobody can buy outside of China and a few export markets such as the Middle East, was slotted strategically between the stands of Mercedes and BMW which arguably had the most important new models to be unveiled at the bi-annual Paris event.
The Paris show CEO even made a speech welcoming GAC to the show – an unheard of occurrence.
In another hall that housed local French heroes Renault, Peugeot and Citroen, along with Ferrari, Hyundai and Kia, Vietnamese start up VinFast also got the royal treatment, even though it is yet to build a car in its two years of existence.
It was given the timeslot before Ferrari to present its prototype large luxury sedan and SUV – both based on superseded BMW technologies – that it plans to put into production in a factory in north Vietnam in September next year.
VinFast paid a handsome fee to English soccer star David Beckham to turn up on the stand in an effort to attract the world’s press.
The Paris show filled vacant halls with vintage cars and parts supplier displays to make the place look busy. One hall that usually buzzes with flash cars housed only the media centre.
With the likes of Volkswagen, Volvo, Ford and Opel all staying away, the show agenda that is usually packed with announcements and unveilings was pretty much all over on the first morning of the two press days.
Those companies that did make the effort suddenly found themselves on vast floorspace, filling some of the allotted area with cars from previous eras.
Several manufacturers who at least booked stands at the show did not bother to stage presentations or, like Audi, scaled them back to local affairs with no global importance.
Audi chose San Francisco for a private event beamed to the world on the internet to launch its new e-tron electric vehicle in the days leading up to the Paris show.
The obvious decline in the Paris show mirrors the slip in car-maker interest at other shows around the world in recent years.
The main Australian shows, in Melbourne and Sydney, all folded, the Tokyo show is a shadow of its former self, and now the Detroit show is looking for a new time slot in summer – away from the cold North American winter – to revive its fortunes and escape a clash with the Las Vegas CES show that has attracted tech-savvy motor manufacturers looking for a more hip audience.
The Paris show is held every two years, alternating with the world’s biggest motor show, in Frankfurt.
All eyes will be on the Frankfurt event in September 2019 to see if the motor manufacturers all return for what is an expensive exercise.

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