It’s four years since the automotive industry last set up camp up at the Paris motor show, and – understatement alert – much has changed in that time. Among that change is motor shows themselves. They sadly remain an endangered species, even more on so the evidence of the 2022 Paris offering.
There’s no getting away from just how small Paris was both in footprint (one hall over two floors, and even then there was lots of filler) and in manufacturer attendance. Not even Citroën turned up, leaving Stellantis brands Jeep, Peugeot and DS alongside Renault, Dacia and Alpine as the only major attendees.
Numbers were bolstered by new players from China, among them BYD and Great Wall, which made for an intriguing sub-plot to the show, particularly in light of some unfiltered comments from Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares who called either for European political leaders to impose tariffs on Chinese cars being sold here or for European cars to get favourable subsidies to make them more attractive and cost competitive.
So forget the sparsity: Paris was still a relevant, intriguing snapshot of an industry having to navigate a huge technology shift. Tavares’s message to the media on what he believes to be an existential threat to the European car industry was also delivered the evening before at a dinner with French president Emmanuel Macron.
The president himself was perhaps the biggest attraction of all at the show, bringing it to a standstill at various points as he moved about the halls (well, up and down the stairs at least). His first port of call was Renault, in which the French state is a large investor. While checking on his investment, Macron will have seen how Renault was following up the rebirth of the 5 with something similar for the 4 in 2024 with the 4Ever concept.
Many noted a similarity in the style and positioning of the 4Ever to Dacia, perhaps a compliment to just how individual a style the daughter brand has carved out in simple, appealing products. The future of that brand was previewed by Dacia’s own concept car, the Manifesto buggy. As for Alpine, the Alpenglow concept provides a manifesto of its own for the performance brand.
To Stellantis, where Jeep was the biggest attraction. The Avenger is the first Jeep properly designed and engineered by Europe, for Europe. The company calls it a “game changer” for the brand, and being an electric small SUV it is certainly on-trend, and without plenty of the baggage (high CO2, low quality) of the models before it over here.
One executive spotted taking a keen interest in the car was Stellantis chairman John Elkann. Peugeot had the largest Stellantis presence. The 408, a mix of saloon, hatchback and crossover SUV, was its main star, but bigger news is to come, for Peugeot today announced plans to launch the concept car Inception later this year that will preview the future of the company.
A shame it wasn’t in Paris, then, yet Peugeot had the air of a brand brimming with confidence, and there is still plenty more to come. Mercedes was in Paris, but not at the show, gatecrashing down the road for the reveal of its EQE SUV. Renault attended BMW’s home show in Munich last year but the favour wasn’t returned here, so don’t expect much of a French presence when – or rather if – the show circus rolls back into Bavaria next September.
All of which left the rest of the floor to the Chinese car makers. Great Wall was at Munich last year with its Ora and Wey brands, and so it was in Paris, too. It looks a credible entry to the European market, and a launch for Ora in the UK is still on. BYD brought three new electric cars here, among them a tech-rich Tesla Model 3 rival called the Seal that’s undercutting the American giant in China.
The cars from Chinese car makers get ever more attractive at each passing motor show, and it is shows like Paris where you can check their progress most closely of all, and in comparison to the established players. Tavares doesn’t need a motor show to know the threat they represent, but for the rest of us, the melting pot and meeting point that shows represent to check on industry progress was alive and kicking in Paris, even if it’s now perhaps on an unviably small scale.
Read on for our live blog and all of the biggest model reveals in Paris
15:01 – How’s this for a quick turnaround? Stellantis Motorsport boss Jean-Marc Finot got the green light for the 9X8 project on 13/11/2019 (the same day Ford vs Ferrari was released in cinemas) and the car completed its first lap on 11/12/2021. FP
14:29 – Is it me or does this Vinfast VF8 look a lot like a Renault Kadjar crossed with a Alfa Romeo Tonale? RB
13:57 – There are plenty of Chinese firms here and it seems like a shrewd move; because the show doesn’t have the sheer mass or grandeur that motor shows had historically, it means these less established brands have breathing room. They’re not competing with the German premium giants and consumers, once they arrive here, might actually pay attention to these relatively unknown makers’ stands. Smart, I reckon. RB
13:30 – The Hopium stand includes a car, a turntable, and a logo. There’s minimalist, and then there’s just plain empty and looking unfinished. It’s not a stand to entice you in. A splash of colour on top of the undercoat wouldn’t go a miss. MT
13:01 – Not too sold on the rear end of the new 408. It’s a little fussy compared to what we’ve seen recently from Peugeot. MT
12:43 – Exciting to think this Alpine Alpenglow concept reflects the future of Alpine cars, although there’s no solid plans to go the hydrogen route as this concept features, says the performance boss Sovany Ang. RB
12:31 – The super-stripped-out A110 R will be the final iteration of the car before we get an Alpine electric sports car in a couple of years, confirmed Sovany Ang, its product performance boss. Most of the weight loss achieved (it now weighs 1082kg was through the use of carbon parts plus some specialist tyres, she explained. MT
12:20 – Climbing wall on the Dacia stand is a novelty. There’s probably a metaphor in there somewhere about overcoming obstacles, or ‘scaling up’ its product strategy. Or maybe they think we all fancy a bit of mid-show exercise. FP
12:16 – Great audience with the ever-impressive Carlos Tavares. The Stellantis boss is never short of a headline or soundbite, headlines today include calling on Chinese car makers to be slapped with import taxes in Europe, the EU7 emissions regulations to be scrapped, and news that Alfa Romeo’s future is secure. MT
12:00 However big his empire grows. Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares remains accessible to his team. DS boss Beatrice Foucher said she speaks to Tavares two or three times a week. ‘He is as easy to talk to now as he always was [even when the group was smaller] MT
11:38 – Macron Will have been especially keen to get up close to Peugeot’s new cars. Not only is the 208 supermini Europe’s best-selling car, it’s also Europe’s best-selling electric supermini and France’s best-selling EV, full stop. FP
11:18 – There’s no getting away from how small Paris feels, compared to motor shows of yore. But bosses at Peugeot – one of the headline exhibitors – think physical events like this still play a vital role in getting the brand’s point across. Head of design Matthias Hossann told Autocar that, while “we can communicate digitally”, a totally new product like the 408 crossover is best shown in the metal because it best “shows the inventiveness” of the brand. CEO Linda Jackson, meanwhile, said: “The Paris motor show is a great moment for the automobile industry, and it gives us the time to really reflect in terms of the profound changes that are taking place in a revolution in the history of the automobile”. FP
11:03 – Guess the market where DS outsells Audi? Argentina of all places. DS boss Beatrice Foucher tells us there’s a strong French culture there which has helped DS gain traction and mean it’s third in the premium market after Mercedes and BMW. RB
10:38 – Renault’s design director Gilles Vidal has been talking to us about the shelf life of SUVs – he says the goal is to create similarly spacious interiors while decreasing the external footprint of SUVs, which of course plays to the long-wheelbase flat architecture of electric cars. On the outlandish 4 concept, he says the bonnet handles won’t stay – no surprises there. RB
10:14 – I briefly lived in France and the persistent grumble of these little Aixam ‘voitures sans permits’ still haunts me. There’s an EV now, of course, and it’s amazing how much more you see the appeal, now. FP
10:01 – It’s been noted that the Peugeot 408 bears more than a passing resemblance to the Lamborghini Urus. How does designer Matthias Hossan feel about that? “Well, it means in terms of character and perception, that it’s quite assertive.” It’s “not a bad” comparison, he added. FP
09:47 – Everyone said he was coming and here he is: French PM Emmanuel Macron is deep in chat with Renault boss Luca de Meo. Macron will be hoping it distracts from the latest load of French strikes… RB
09:30 – Luca de Meo has come a long way since his last role running Seat, which hasn’t gone from strength to strength since his departure. There’s no doubt his challenge is huge: to make Renault profitable, to manage the tricky alliance with Nissan – but he’s not letting any stress show. De Meo appears as if he’s taking it all in his stride. RB
09:15 – Renault has closed its stand ahead of the imminent arrival of President Macron. The Renault exec team, including boss Luca de Meo, even look a bit nervous… MT
09:00 – Ah, these are the motor show we know and love: crowds of people trying to get the ultimate snap of a top exec and a new car despite layers and layers of people. Luca de Meo talking in French, giving it the sense of a very French-market-focused show. He’ll be talking to us in English later. RB
08:45 – Weeks of planning have gone into this motor show to enable the right executives to be in the right place at the right time, conducting hundreds of interviews with journalists. And then that all goes up into the air when one Emmanuel Macron decides he wants to pay a visit… Word is show stands will have to be cleared up to an hour in advance for them to be swept by the French secret service, and interview schedules remain up in the air. MT
08:30 – It’s quality, not quantity in Paris this year. In footprint, the show is undeniably tiny, squeezed into just one hall over two floors. Yet the new car debuts are still plentiful and the executives top drawer, industry heavyweights Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares and Renault chief Luca de Meo among them, both of whom we’re speaking with today. Mark Tisshaw
08:15 – First time I’ve seen the Peugeot 9X8 in the flesh. Super-cool. Car behind is the 508 PSE, its closest road-going relation for now… Hopefully its commitment to WEC will soon translate to more fun performance cars for Joe Public. RB
08:00 – An unexpected find at the show: ‘American Car City’. Complete with four sufficiently absurdly sized vehicles including an Escalade and a Ram TRX. You can only assume there’s a market or they wouldn’t be here… RB
07:45 – A huge stand for BYD is surely emblematic of its potential success in the European market. With four models – a crossover, large SUV, luxury GT and exec saloon – in its range, there’s no question over which Californian EV brand it has in its crosshairs. FP
07:30 – First spot on entering the show is the new Jeep Avenger. Looks great and feels like it really could be the car that means bigger volumes (albeit still not huge) for Jeep in Europe. Rachel Burgess
07:15 – With the new Manifesto concept, Dacia showcases its aim to bring its outdoorsy, activity-focused ethos to the fore – similar to what Czech brand Skoda did recently with its rugged Vision 7S concept. Asked how he feels about another mainstream car company revamping its design language around similar principles, Dacia design director David Durand said: “It doesn’t worry me, because Skoda is in a different field – it’s much more expensive than our range. It’s a bit flattering I think, because it means we are on the way that makes sense, even for more expensive brands.” FP
07:00 – Monday 17 October
Enlightening (and amusing) to speak to both Dacia design director David Durand and his counterpart at sibling performance brand Alpine, Marc Poulain, about the function-over-form Alpenglow and racy Manifesto concepts. They admit that, despite the complete lack of visual similarity, the two are very similar in their approach to reducing weight, maximising efficiency and providing essential features. “I think there are some similarities in both brands: being essential is a real value. We can be more on the lifestyle side at Dacia, and more sporting for Alpine, but some values are common”, Durand said. So common, in fact, that – Poulain revealed – both were called ‘Manifesto’ until the two teams showed their final products to each other.” Felix Page
Alpine A110 E-Ternite
The A110 E-Ternite is a glimpse of the firm’s all-electric future, showcasing the ways in which it will minimise weight and maintain agility of its upcoming electric models.
Not only is it the brand’s first running and driving electric car, but also its first drop-top, featuring a removable roof section that has minimal impact on the car’s rigidity and silhouette.
Alpine A110 R
We eagerly awaited Alpine’s appearance in Paris, and the French sports car firm started with the debut of the hardcore A110 R.
Set to go on sale later this month, the R will sit above the standard Alpine A110, completing the model’s core range. It weighs in at just 1082kg – down 34kg compared to the standard car – while it also gains a new swan-neck spoiler, a flat undercarriage, a new rear diffuser and reshaped side skirts.
That’s not all – the R is also set 10mm lower than the S, with hydraulically adjustable dampers offering what Alpine calls the “ultimate on-track experience”. A stripped-back rival to the Porsche Cayman GT4, it does away with sound-deadening materials inside and features an abundance of carbon fibre parts.
Alpine also debuted a brand new concept – the Alpenglow – in the French capital, after its full reveal on Thursday 13th October. The Alpenglow will inspire the next generation of Alpine’s cars, as it moves towards electric-only power.
An imposing, shadow-obscured racer, the model was presented with a front-facing light bar, a wide diffuser and a cockpit design which appears similar to the McLaren Solus GT.
It’s an evolution of the earlier A4810 concept revealed earlier this year, which was particularly notable because of its hydrogen-fueled electric drivetrain.
BYD Atto and BYD Seal
BYD is poised to begin European sales of three new EVs – the Atto 3 crossover, Han saloon and Tang SUV – by the end of the year. It’s expected to detail the cars’ pricing, spec and availability at Paris.
New Dacia branding
Dacia will formally reveal its new brand identity in Paris, featuring a new logo, emblem and khaki green colour scheme. The new branding will appear on all new Dacia cars from the second half of 2022, meaning we’ll see the Dacia Sandero, Dacia Jogger and Dacia Duster all showcasing the firm’s new “simplistic and artful mindset”.
Billed as a featherweight, all-terrain buggy, the Dacia Manifesto concept showcases several new technologies (but no doors, windows or windscreen).
With four-wheel drive, large wheels and a raised stance, the Manifesto is also completely waterproof and is constructed from lightweight, sustainable materials.
It’s similar in size to the Ariel Nomad, and Dacia says it’s a statement of intent – a technical showcase that the Romanian firm has called a “lab for ideas”. Work on the model began only in January, but it was still the star of its line-up in Paris.
Dacia Jogger hybrid
Also on the agenda in Paris is the reveal of Dacia’s first electrified UK model: the Dacia Jogger hybrid.
It is also likely to be the cheapest hybrid MPV on the market, with a price expected to sit at around £19,000.
DS 3 facelift
Changes to the DS 3 include a sleeker front end and powertrain revisions for the electric E-Tense version. It’s also ditched the ‘Crossback’ label, in line with the larger DS 7, because the DS 3 supermini is no longer available.
It hasn’t been a best-seller in the UK, but is an important car for the brand on the continent, so Paris seems like a natural fit for the stylish crossover to be shown.
Great Wall Motors
Great Wall Motors is about to launch the Ora brand in the UK with the Funky Cat EV. At Paris, the firm will also detail its plans to enter the European luxury market with the Wey marque, likely led by the Coffee 01.
The Wey Coffee 01 is a luxury SUV featuring a plug-in hybrid powertrain mating a 201bhp Miller Cycle engine and dual electric motors, giving a total system output of 469bhp. A 40kWh battery means that 93 miles of electric-only driving is possible.
The Hopium Machina is the French luxury start-up’s first model, with which it aims to claim a stake in the luxury segment by utilising hydrogen power.
Power is supplied by a set of electric motors (in an as-yet not detailed arrangement), producing 493bhp and a 0-62mph sprint in less than 5.0sec.
A Renault Group product intended for use as a private hire vehicle, taxi or fleet car, the Mobilize Limo is part developed by Chinese firm Jiangling Motors.
While it debuted in Munich last year, the Limo is making an appearance at its home motor show.
Under the skin sits a 147bhp and 162lb ft electric motor, which propels the model from 0-62mph in 9.6sec, up to a limited top speed of 87mph.
Another hydrogen-powered SUV on display in Paris is the Pininfarina-designed Namex HUV, produced by Afro-European tech firm Namx.
The SUV, which breaks with fuel cell convection from six hydrogen capsules, is claimed to be able to hit a range of up to 500 miles.
Its capsules re fitted with a fixed hydrogen tank. Together, they produce 542bhp on top-spec models, or 296bhp for the entry-level vehicle.
Ora’s first four-door saloon, the concept (codenamed EC24) will be sold with two battery sizes, the largest capable of up to 435 miles on a single charge.
It will be sold alongside the Funky Cat compact hatchback, which will begin UK deliveries in the UK by the end of the year.
Renault Scenic Vision
The Scenic will join the Renault 4 as one of the latest cars to receive a new lease of life. Unlike the smaller 4 however, the Scenic will return in 2024 as a bold electric SUV.
It was showcased at the Paris motor show as a concept car featuring a radical hydrogen-electric powertrain, and it will take up the baton from the MPV built from 1991 to 2022.
Expect the new Scenic to sit above the Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric SUV in Renault’s EV line-up.