Oct 22, 2010
On a market that is struggling not to fall, car manufacturers want to attract customers with new environmentally-friendly vehicles. It seems that they are not joking at all, as long as the electric concepts and hybrids did not “miss” Paris Motor Show 2010.
“While others are just presenting their new hybrid generation, we have already sold 2.8 millions of cars featuring this technology. And the selling percentage has risen with 65%.” - Didier Leroy, president of Toyota Motor Europe, illustrates as suggestive as possible how bitter the battle is at Paris Motor Show 2010. Whether you think of Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, Saab, Honda, Mini, Seat, Audi or the exclusivist Lotus, Infiniti, Jaguar, Bentley or Ferrari – all of them have presented brands more “green” than ever and have repeated almost obsessively the slogan “driving is fun and environmentally responsible”. It is true that Toyota has been one step ahead of every brand at this point, but it also received a terrible blow the last spring when it was forced to call in service million of cars, including the Prius, the famous Japanese friend of nature.
However, the green vehicles present at Paris Motor Show 2010 are not fiction at all. The first electric vehicles will be in stores within weeks. Peugeot and Citroen will start from France, being followed in 2011 by Renault and Nissan. When designing the vehicles, the manufacturers have given up to the surrealist versions of previous editions, trying to reinvent the current variants, to adapt them for their new “green suits” and also to prepare them for that time when traditional fuel will be replaced by electricity and “battery tanks”.
“In order to make the innovative vehicles more popular, companies are trying to lay odds on simplicity”, said Marc Giulioli, marketing manager of Peugeot France, explaining that it is hard to convince the client to pay even 30,000 euros for a less agile car which has the autonomy limited at a few tens of kilometers. It is basically an incredible marketing effort for the experts in the field. Slogans like “from 0 to 50km/h with 0 liters”, or “essence of the cleanest engine for the universe” are representative for the strategy on which sellers rely at Paris Motor Show.
Even the new Ferrari SA Aperta is proud to present its new green characteristics, especially the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in urban traffic.
In turn, Peugeot has launched the first full hybrid diesel vehicle. The Peugeot 3008 Hybrid4 variant features a really low fuel consumption of 3.8 liters for 100 kilometers and emits just 99 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. The future Peugeot 508 variant will have the same fate, in 2012, the French manufacturers preparing a hybrid vehicle for those who “want to be closer to nature”.
At Paris Motor Show, Renault Fluence has amazed us with an astonishing electric car, while Mercedes-Benz displayed the new A-Class E-Cell – simple vehicles that seem to represent an aesthetic improvement of their ancestors. What we have seen at Paris Motor Show 2010 is the desire of the manufacturers to sustain the idea of “ecological” vehicles. However, Van den Acker, one of the top car designers tells us that “when everyone will have electric models, the design will become more important, as it will be the first criteria to make the difference between cars”.
On the other hand, car manufacturers are trying to emphasize the importance of the change of customers’ mentality. Paris Motor Show 2010 is dominated by innovative ideas, electric concepts and futurist designs. Naturally, there are voices who argue that environmentalism has no place in today’s world and that we could do very well with the old non-renewable fuel. Moreover, the opponents of the green ideals say that the new hybrid and electric cars will not solve the traffic jam and the parking nightmare in major cities.
In fact, it is exactly the area where electricity should intervene: the consciousness of drivers. The drivers of the 21st century should have a civic behavior and do less harm to the nature. But from marketing to ecology the road can be long and full of surprises.
Paris Motor Show 2010 is the largest car exhibition in the world. This year more than 300 brands of cars were present in the show, many of them presenting futuristic concepts which will be harmless for the environment.