An alternate look at the world of moving design

Best of Paris Auto Show 2008 – Photo Blog

Last week, the automotive great and good descended on Paris in their droves for the 2008 Paris auto show, or “Mondial de l’auotmobile 2008” to give it its proper name. Some hugely important cars were unveiled – most of which you can read more about on Car Design News. However, rather than posting some indepth review, here’s a quick, picture round up and commentary of some of the more obscure moments, details and ideas.

Ford launched James Bond’s new car… the Ford Ka (above). Well not quite – Bond himself is still in an Aston in Quantum of Solice, but the Ka makes a cameo appearance in the movie, driven by one of the bond girls.

Nissan’s Nuvu (above) proved the company are happy to plow a completely different aesthetic furrow to everyone else. The ‘Palm-tree’ emblem in the background (left) is significant here – because inside the car, it translates into a vertical feature connecting roof and floor, with the ‘palm’s‘ roof-based solar cells transmitting energy down the interior ‘trunk’ (right) to charge the car’s battery.

A ‘spine’ connecting roof and floor also cropped up in Mazda’s latest ‘Flow’ series concept vehicle – the Kiyora (above). Here, the spine actually takes water from the roof, passes it down inside the spine, through a carbon filter, and then deposits drinkable water into a bottle inside, for the occupants. It seems that the message here is that, whatever you can do in a building (solar panels, rainwater harvesting), you can do in cars too.

Although some might see this as twee, it was nice to see Mazda and Nissan being innovative, experimental and fun. Elsewhere, Paris was characterised by manufacturers who seem to think that daubing great big green (or blue) stickers across their cars touting environmental credentials somehow makes them green. I’m talking about you Volvo, Peugeot, Mercedes, VW, Renault, Skoda…and many more (below).

This is a great shame… essentially the marketing departments driving this thing are scoring a huge own-goal because consumers don’t ‘buy’ the concept, designers hate it, and it looks like greenwashing when, in the real world some company’s CO2/MPG figures are dropping impressively (take a bow BMW). There’s really no need for stickers when some really interesting, tangible future stuff on the horizon will result in seismic changes. I’m thinking here about cars like Chevrolet’s Volt (below)

and Renault’s entirely workable electric vehicle recharge infrastructure system (which highlights and uses Better Place’s technology network)

Renault tied this tech up with the rather plausible ‘ZE’ concept vehicle (below) – one of my personal stars of the show. Ditch the stupid luminous-green glass, camera mirrors and jewel lights, and what you’ve actually got here is the latest Kangoo Be-Bop city van, in funked-up electric form. The idea of small electric commercial vehicles in cities makes an enormous amount of sense, and Renault is already trialling this kind of thing with La Poste and other companies in France. Make no mistake, this isn’t pie in the sky, this is ‘here in the next three years’ stuff.

Elsewhere, no one was quite sure whether Fiat were trying to communicate a subliminal message of ‘cleanness’ and ‘purity’ by making their entire stand white (below)…

…but in the end, most came to the conclusion that it was just the Italians doing what they do best – getting the colours absolutely spot on, and off-setting themselves beautifully with the Alfa stand opposite – where all the cars (bar one 8C spider) were alfa red (below).

Land Rover’s stand contained nothing new or of interest, but a massive video wall with a waterfall in front of it got me snapping away (below)…

..and Honda showed off their beautiful early grand prix race car (below – right of photo), which made the current offering (below – left of photo) look a bit, erm, gross – aerodynamics eh?

Finally, Peugeot were obviously so upset with the ugliness of their Prologue concept car (below), that they decided to set the thing on fire halfway through the show.. (but seriously, have you ever seen a less-pretty rear end on a car?!)

More coming soon. See more Paris obscureness photos in my flickr galleries here.

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