Paris Motor Show 2018 has opened its gates to bring another proof we are living unique times. Take a good look at the cars you see today on the streets as the landscape will change very soon! The cars of tomorrow are already checking in.
I have been following the industry as a journalist since 1999. I don’t want to make calculations but in these almost 20 years, during motor shows, I have been asked for thousands and thousands of times: ”What’s new in the industry? How did you feel this show?” So here I am in Paris wandering among the flashy stands just to stop in front of a brand I wouldn’t notice before: Hyundai. Yes, the South-Korean manufacturer which some ten years ago was still producing a low-cost mass production model called Accent. The first thing I can instantly notice is that the times of cheap plastics and no-design Accent are long gone. What I can see now is an European shaped, premium quality range which perfectly appeal to a young generation of clients. Or, if they are not so young, at least they are pragmatic and don’t care to show off.
Is there a case like this? I would step down a minute from the impressive expo of the Porte du Versailles and look to the hotel industry. There are those historical addresses from those well-established destinations where the room rates are way above 500 euros per night, if not 1000. And for those hotels you have a clientele to respect the history of the place and understand the value. But why? Mainly because are people who have been to these hotels since childhood and continue to come with their children. At a closer look, a pragmatic one, you see a lot of things which would need change. The furniture from the rooms is quite old and used. The restaurant would need a refurbishment. Maybe the multimedia package cries for a new generation of TV sets and telephones. So for these hotels, the new generation of clients doesn’t exist. Apple watch users who don’t understand the value in a mechanical watch and Airbnb subscribers don’t see why to pay 500 euros per night in an old building just because 50 years ago all the celebrities were here. Today all the celebrities can be followed on Instagram so what’s the use of going to the same holiday address?
Hyundai is a new kind of holiday address. Even if it is not playing in the league of well-established premium brands, Hyundai has all the premium reasons to convince Apple watch users to say ”Ok, this car feels amazing! Why pay more for history?” In a large stand covering all the new automotive trends, you hear almost every manager speaking German and English. The new generation of managers and designers brought experience from all the European brands and this can already be felt when entering the new i30 Fastback N. The world premiere of the model showed a Golf flavoured 4 doors coupe with an interior to offer everything a modern consumer is looking for. The language of Hyundai is including ambitious concepts that finally arrive in the series production. Since 2013, all the design ideas are now to be seen on the streets, inclusive and mainly on the streets of Europe. Hyundai Kona, a compact all electric SUV, has been launched this year and Norway already ordered over 7000 units. In other words, 7000 ”Apple watch users” from Norway noticed the attractive design and the technological package and they decided to buy it. Why pay more for history and prestige?
The revolution will continue and Hyundai is ready to bring more electrical models in real life as well as Fuel Cell propulsion. Based on Hydrogen, the fuel cell may become a gasoline substitute as it is more efficient in terms of autonomy and charging times. What is hard evidence for now is the way Hyundai competes on every field the modern automotive industry has launched. Even if this means to give design themes for clients to dream about. What is on trend for Paris Motor Show? The confirmation that ”Apple Watch Users” care less about history but they are addicted to buying experiences. All manufacturers, mass or niche, low cost or premium, have to transmit emotion. Hyundai is already looking after 2020 and its German designer speaks about the fluent shapes in front of Le Fil Rouge design study. Even Skoda shows the future in the shape of Vision RS concept. Renault draws the image of the world of our children where all cars drive themselves so that all Clio owners can be happier of their choice.
In the Champions league, brands like Porsche, Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz have the real history and dreamy style. But still. They are also looking to compete with the future so Paris Motor Show counts for at least one electric SUV in every line-up. If you are Ferrari and you build around 8000 cars per year there would be no issue soon. When you build 1,7 – 1,8 million cars per year, like the ”German luxury giants” do, then the competition gets very tough. The word ”Diesel” may be heard from time to time. Nevertheless Electric Vehicle is for sure the hit of the moment. Around the stands, there is still room to admire a giant and ultra-luxurious limousine like the Merc S-Class Maybach. Porsche knows how to make all car passionate fall in love with the bubbled-eyes faces of its models. Stopping in front of Jaguar there is even an original British green XJ to mark the 50th anniversary of the historical model. But ”the cat” is comes also in the shape of the new electrical SUV – I-Pace
One thing is sure. Time moves faster than ever and all the futuristic concepts wait in line for the series production. Apple changed the mentality in the world of watches. It seems that Apple is selling more watches in one trimester than all the Swiss Watch industry in a whole year. Those people buying an electronic device to wear on the wrist are now looking to buy a new if not their first car. And they don’t care about any badge. So, everyone, buckle up!