September 29, 2012
Eye on Design in Paris
Francois Bancon, Deputy Division GM
Paris auto show 2012. A very high quality of exhibition and product all around, very professional as we expect in Europe. But overall a huge lack of dream, of aspiration for the future.
Except Nissan with the TeRRA, kind of providing something which indicates a direction for the future, only premium brands, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche are providing something inspiring, something a little bit more dreamy.
This is the Clio, this is the fourth generation, so half of the B segment mainstream car in Europe. Bread and butter for Renault, a very important product. What is very interesting is if you look at the interior there is an exceptional level of quality.
They did very well, very competitive car, a higher level that we have among the category. It is a sign for us that when you talk about a premium car, the quality materials, the finish…it used to be a sign of premium makes. This is not any more the case.
This level of quality is accessible including on a B segment car and this is something we have to think about.
Almost all, including the fabric, you can see, very sophisticated fabric. It’s a very high quality level. The touch quality everywhere, including the controls, the centre cluster, the finish itself, the design itself.
That used to be an expensive car attribute. Now it is available in this segment.
Volvo V40 Cross Country
Volvo V40 Cross Country, leisure driven activity. Little bit of a station wagon, a very highly developed quality. Volvo, there’s a kind of continuity in the Volvo line up which is very interesting.
This is a territory we are moving into also, this kind of leisure oriented product. The wheels are remarkable, very well done.
BMW Active Tourer
The BMW Active Tourer, very interesting. BMW is becoming an MPV company which is a surprise.
BMW used to be about driving pleasure and here they are competing in the Mercedes B Class territory which is a new thing for BMW.
The big revolution is the 1.2 liter 3 cylinder power train and front-wheel drive which for BMW is kind of shocking.
Mercedes A Class
So the Mercedes Classe A which is a brand new car, hatchback, compact. Very different from the original Classe A which was a kind of minivan thing.
This is built on a MFA platform which is a platform that we are planning to share with Infiniti. Very good looking car, very modern, high quality.
It’s a kind of repositioning of Mercedes with let’s say a young target audience for the car. I think Mercedes have a very wide line up now. They used to be a very premium product division. Now their line up includes a kind of entry car, by Mercedes standards at least, the A Class, the B Class. There are a lot of generations of the A Class, including the A Class sedan for the US.
Probably they don’t need so much innovation. Having Mercedes available in the entry segment is in itself an innovation.