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Story and photos by Henri Kern
The 2012 Paris Motor Show is taking place from September 29 to October 14.
Jeep is showcasing three new models at the show this year — actually, new special editions of existing vehicles, rather than new models.
The Wrangler has a new special-edition called Moab, with special wheels and a deep red color, Rock Lobster. I realized once I left the show that I don’t even have proper photos of this special Wrangler, a lot of people were always around it. The Wrangler is really an iconic car and always met great success with the public.
Jeep debuts the new Grand Cherokee SRT Limited Edition only available in Bright White. I have to say that this SUV is looking absolutely sweet with the black wheels. It’s a SUV that can easily compete against Mercedes ML 63 AMG and the BMW X5 M.
Jeep also displayed the new Jeep Compass Overland special edition: it’s the top of line Compass.
Some argue that creating so much special editions is probably not the best way to market the brands. I can’t think of any other brands having so many special editions here in Europe. Beside these new editions you can see on the Jeep stand the Jeep Compass Black Edition and an other special edition of the Wrangler. Anyway, a lot of special editions were on the Jeep stand.
Honestly, I don’t now what to say about Lancia. This brand, which I appreciated before the merging with Chrysler, is really starting to annoy me. I’ve already expressed my point of view about the merger of Lancia in Chrysler, but in case you don’t know: I don’t like it.
They showed the Lancia Thema, Lancia Flavia and the Lancia Voyager, all Chrysler models (300, 200 and Town and Country in the US) but sold under the Lancia badge here in Europe (except UK).
Sales of the Thema and Voyager are really bad (the Flavia is new in Europe) and are mainly made with cab drivers who have big discounts, and Lancia salesmen or dealership owners.
Despite this catastrophic rebadging, Lancia is doing pretty well with the pure Lancia models, especially the Ypsilon and the Delta. I read on some French forums that Lancia salesmen think that even if nobody is buying the Thema, at least the Thema is attracting buyers into the showroom for the Delta.
Fiat displayed the new Fiat 500 L at the Paris Motor Show. A bigger Fiat 500, the goal is to compete against the Mini Countryman, which is a big success. The inside is feeling really cheap but I think it won’t be a problem. The Fiat 500 is such a hit in France, women love this car.
A new trim level of the Fiat Freemont was introduced at the show: the Park Avenue. Shown with white leather seats and the Uconnect touch screen, it’s the top of the range trim. Fiat also introduced a new petrol engine (2.4 litres and 170 HP) combined with a six speed automatic transmission. Automatic transmission are really gaining traction in Europe, so a proper gearbox is really important. The Fiat Freemont collected more than 39,000 orders in Europe and is the best selling seven seater in Italy.
Also showed, were a bunch of Fiat 500, the Fiat Bravo, the Fiat Doblo, the Fiat Panda 4x4 and the Fiat Qubo with the Nitro kit whose goal is to attract people who practice all kind of open-air sports.
Absolutely nothing new on the Alfa Romeo stand. They displayed the Mito and the Giulieta. They have a new, again, special edition Mito SBK limited Edition because they are doing a partnership with the Superbike World Championship.
I really lost interest in the Chrysler Group brands since Fiat took the helm at Chrysler and destroyed the Chrysler and Dodge brands in Europe. These brands had loyal customers, in particular Chrysler, and should have stayed in Europe. Fortunately we still have a few people who love American brands and are importing them from the US. Even if the prices are really high as you can see in some of the photos, there is a demand for the Ram 1500. (Euros-to-dollars conversions by Allpar on October 9, 2012.)
The French government (the one we have now or even the one before) does everything it can to keep people from buying huge and powerful cars. We have an absolutely crazy gas guzzler tax and high gas prices (regular unleaded gasoline is 1,591€/Liter [US$7.90/gallon], and diesel is 1,408€/L [$7/gallon]), the Ram is lucky enough to be considered as a commercial van by the tax authority, so business owners usually buy their Ram in the name of their company so they don’t have to pay taxes that commercial outfits are exempt from.
The day Ram puts a diesel into its trucks, the demand here in Europe will be even bigger, and a smaller diesel pick-up would be a killer (every day I see more and more small Ford Ranger pick-ups).
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What would be awesome would be to see Ram taking the world stage in the professional segment and progressively replacing the Fiat Professional brand (I don’t know if we can call that a brand) with a complete portfolio from the small commercial van to the big commercial trucks, and get rid of all these ugly Fiat Ducatos (kudos by the way to suzq044 for her rendering of a big Ram van I saw on the forum).
I still think it was not a good idea to give the control of Chrysler to Fiat. The only thing Chrysler needed was a new management team. But that's only my opinion and I know that not a lot of people agree with me in the USA.
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