Concepts like this Lamborghini Sesto Elemento wowed the media this week; the public gets its first look on Saturday

Concepts like this Lamborghini Sesto Elemento wowed the media this week; the public gets its first look on Saturday

Let's see now, anything interesting happen in the last week? Hmmm.. Oh, yes, Paris. What a show! Sales in some markets may still be in the doldrums, 'clunker' subsidies are ending and countries like the UK and New Zealand are hiking the sales tax otherwise known as VAT and GST. So what do the automakers do? Stay upbeat and roll out a stack of new destined-for-production and concept models just like it was business as usual.

If you're pushed for time this Friday afternoon, we have a quick 'executive summary' you can breeze through in a couple of minutes. Or stay awhile and learn about Jaguar's we-might-build-it-if-demand-is-there turbojet powered hybrid. Simply stunning, dripping with clever technology and, ahem, designed right here in Britain.

Then there's minnow brand Lotus, owned by Proton. It has an audacious plan to roll out five new cars by 2015, from a replacement for the bare-bones Elise roadster to challengers for the likes of Lamborghini and Aston Martin. And also designed guess where?

Buoyed by sales in China the VW group - remember that it, like Chrysler, was in early on local manufacturing JVs - is on target for new sales records.

Speaking of Chrysler, we learned of new plans where the Chrysler brand will now be Lancia in Europe but not in the UK. And dealer numbers will increase by sweeping all in under Lancia. Or, I assume, Fiat, this side of the Channel. I noted today that the UK importer's address has changed from Daimler's to Fiat's; let's hope more appropriate low-CO2 and fuel consumption engines, and suspensions better tuned to European roads - compare a Voyager with an S-Max for example - soon follow with the new master's help.

Also on the business side, there's still no decision on Opel/Vauxhall's Luton van JV plant with Renault but hopefully there soon will be. Toyota Europe is bouncing back from the recall 'scandal' and there's a chance Ford will roll Lincoln out to global markets; Honda having obligingly decided not to take Acura to western Europe for now.

Also coming soon: successful bidders for GM's Opel plant in Antwerp to be announced next week. I wonder if a Chinese automaker has spotted a European manufacturing footprint opportunity too good to miss?

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts
Deputy News Editor

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