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The death of the motor show

2 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


8 November 2022

‘The cradle of the automobile is French, so, too, the first motor show,’ trumpeted the blurb for the 2006 Salon Mondial de l’Automobile; all true. Inaugurated in 1898, Paris at its pomp was capable of filling no fewer than eight exhibition halls close by the Porte de Versailles on the French Périphérique with spectacle and motor cars that would attract over a million paying visitors along with presidents, politicians and press.

By stark, staring contrast, this year’s running of the biennial show was a disaster and if anyone wanted firm evidence of the state of modern European motor manufacturing and the future for a once-booming motor show industry, Paris was it.

Not since the early part of the century when General Motors was in Chapter 11 protection and simply turned off the lights on its Los Angeles show stands have I seen an emptier motor show. Even if absence of carpet between the stands was understandable perhaps (though hard on the feet), the Toc H lamp levels of show wi-fi was less so. And when even catering chain Paul, that reliable source of baguette-based fodder, couldn’t be bothered to turn up to sell brekky to a relatively small number of attending hacks, you just know something serious is up.

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