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2016-09-27 08:17

WHERE'S THE MAGIC? The Paris Motor Show is only a few days away, but many industry experts believe the event has lost its spark. Image: iStock

Paris -The 2016 Paris Motor Show opens this week with promises of groundbreaking electric concept cars from Volkswagen and Opel, but the shine appears to be wearing off, an event that once was a must-see show for the industry.

Ford, Mazda, Volvo, Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini and Alpine are all staying away from the October 1-16 Paris show, which alternates with Frankfurt as the industry's top annual showcase in Europe.

Many automakers now opt for social media to push their brands rather than taking an expensive stand at major shows, even though Paris attracted 1.25-million visitors last time it was held in 2014.

VW to do damage control

Volkswagen, still trying to recover from the huge scandal of cheating on emissions tests for millions of diesel cars, will be there however.

The automaker is to unveil a concept car it says is "as revolutionary as the Beetle was seven decades ago". The company says it will be capable of covering 480km without recharging.

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Using VW's new modular electrification unit (MEB), it could be launched in 2019.

Opel will counter with the Ampera-e, which has a range of 400km and is closer to going into production.

But Ford's absence is a blow to organisers.

The US giant says it was put off by the "static" nature of the show.

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Instead it is offering members of local motoring associations a chance to test-drive new models, a tactic that has been successful in the United States.

Losing its shine

So is the Paris event less and less of a draw? Remi Cornubert, an automobile sector expert from AT Kearney consultants, said: "Not for the public. But for the big players in the industry, yes."

Chief organiser Jean-Claude Girot told AFP: "I would have preferred that we had the entire galaxy of the car world. I just hope that the orders and the benefits for the brands that are showing will make those who are not here regret it."

Luxury brands such as Lamborghini and the VW-owned Bentley say they prefer to target wealthy potential customers in a more direct manner rather than by paying for a stand in Paris.

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