Blog: Some Paris reflections
Dave Leggett | 29 September 2006
I seem to have had an eventful week one way or another. Just before boarding the train to return home from the Paris Motor Show yesterday I was given the thoroughly unwelcome news that my eldest son had been rushed to hospital earlier to have an operation to pin bits of his wrist together following an accident playing rugby at school. I therefore needed to get home toute suite, but then, as the train was about to depart, we were all ordered off because the security people were looking for illegal immigrants. The train was therefore delayed.
I wasn't really in the mood, either, to enjoy the antics of the boozed up Aussies larking about in my carriage.
To cap it all on the final leg of the long journey - train out of London Waterloo - a guy who was unsteady on his feet, clearly worse for wear, plonked himself in front of me and was promptly sick down himself, his girlfriend trying valiantly to sort him out and prevent death by choking. All in all, not a good end to the day, or the week. There was even an argument over the bill at the hotel yesterday morning.
And my colleague, Will Johnston, endured an abortive take-off on his flight from Paris to Birmingham when hydraulics on the front wheel failed halfway down the runway. There was a fair bit of screaming from some of the passengers, apparently.
But Paris was certainly useful and I have a piece to work on. Lots of people to catch up with and that was good. Some impressions/titbits:
- Carlos Ghosn is an impressive communicator with - let's face it - a pretty good record. He is treated like a superstar. The media bundle at the Renault press conference yesterday was something else.
- Ghosn and the alliance speculation rather stole the show. He more or less said that if GM doesn't want to play ball, he'll see if someone else (Ford) does. He is eyeing the US market in a determined way. Is Nissan in the US doing badly? No, said Carlos - less well. And plenty of people from Detroit are happy to move to Nashville.
- Still on Renault, Twingo (a 'production concept' - Ghosn said 90% of it will be carried over to the production model) looked impressive. Nissan Qashqai looked good.
- GM and SEAT seemed to be fighting it out on the free trolley bags.
- There were the usual unedifying spectacles on some stands when food appeared. Is it true that humans and chimps share 98% of DNA? Maybe for journalists it is 99%.
- Volvo surely has a hit on its hands with the exquisitely styled C30 - now bound for US market also (is that the cavalry bugle we can hear?)
- VW Iroq (heir to Scirocco) has clearly been slimed (as in Ghostbusters) with that green colour. Cool though. Another concept that is very close to the production version. Should do well in the US. The name? Hmm. Uncomfortably close to a certain middle eastern country? As Ricky Gervais might say: 'Are they having a laugh?'
- Evening meal on Wednesday was a doner kebab in a no-frills establishment near to Notre Dame. That was followed by a few glasses of champagne in a pavement bar and in the agreeable company of some JD Power analysts. Kebab and champers? Good combo actually.
- Did you know that Rick Wagoner speaks fluent Portuguese (he served time with GM in Brazil)? Ghosn (that man again) revealed that he and Mr W sometimes revert to Portuguese when having their cosy chats. Must be frustrating for eavesdroppers.
- Myself and Mark Bursa toured the 'emerging market OEMs' stands in Hall 3. Chinese maker Great Wall has an SUV called 'Hover' that didn't look at all bad.
- Pity AvtoVAZ no longer does a Fiat 124-based car for export. That, at least, had a certain style. Can't really say the same for the likes of Kalina.
- Renault launched a wagon/estate version of the Logan that looked good. That whole project must have been valuable to Renault on many different levels, but especially product engineering and challenging existing approaches.
- Mark said he had seen the film of the Landwind (Frontera-based) SUV on crash test and that it was pretty horrific (engine enters passenger compartment to mash legs, bonnet forced up and into cabin to decapitate driver). The word 'deathtrap' was mentioned. Interesting to reflect on how safety is a subjective concept and always moving on.
Renault Twingo Concept
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