Carmakers are betting on style and recycling in the battle for Europe's burgeoning small car market, adding hi-tech safety and entertainment features. As Hayey Platt reports many of the new cars on display take features from older modelsin order to save cash.
It should have heralded a rebound for Europe's ailing car market. Instead the mood among executives at the Paris auto show was one of caution and concern. Sales in the region have been sluggish for six years. And although growing again, are still 20 percent lower than 2007. Peugeot's CEO, Maxime Picat. SOUNDBITE: Maxime Picat, Peugeot Chief Executive, saying (English): "We've have always announced the fact that the rebound of the European market would be quite slow. Some markets like France are not that strong so month after month we'll look closely at it." Carmakers are cutting costs by sharing parts between models - even re-using components from old designs. Volkswagen, Europe's market leader, is building a new production platform to do just that. And Skoda's new Fabia is a remake of an old one. The money saved is being put into extras normally reserved for expensive models. Sarwant Singh from Frost & Sullivan says the show is big on technology but small on size, and isn't so focussed on men. SOUNDBITE: Sarwant Singh, Partner, Frost & Sullivan, saying (English): "The Porsche and the new Macan is very much positioned towards women and similarly you're seeing the Fiat 500 and even the iRoad here, they're coming in different colours, more attractive colours, more attractive designs for women." The impact of Ukraine crisis is being felt at the show. Russian auto sales were down 26 percent in August. And demand in other emerging markets has also cooled. Mercedes owned Daimler cut its global growth forecast by 1 percent from 4-5 percent as a result. SOUNDBITE: Sarwant Singh, Partner, Frost & Sullivan, saying (English): "I think India could be a story next year, the political system is better, we've got a dynamic prime minister there. Africa is a very exciting market. We are seeing a huge trend whereby OEM's want to set up some sort of manufacturing or assembly in Africa. At the same time Indonesia, Asean markets, these are highly populated countries." The Asian market is set to fall too - from 11% to 8% But that's still far higher than Europe's - which is slowing from 4.6% to just 3%.