The West

Electric cars shine at French show
Peugeot Onyx Concept car. Some panels and doors are made from copper sheeting which has been fashioned by hand. Supplied picture

The Paris Motor Show, which is held every alternate year, will open its doors tomorrow with more than 100 new models expected to be revealed by the 103 manufacturers from 23 countries attending the event.

Show organisers are expecting about 1.4 million people to visit the Porte de Versailles Expo halls during the 18 days of the show.

And once again we can expect the supercar manufacturers to steal the limelight.

There will also be a raft of new technology, with most of the major manufacturers expected to use the show to release details of new electric and hybrid vehicles.

And we will also get a glimpse of the next generation of popular cars - such as the seventh edition of Volkswagen's Golf, the Kia Rondo people mover, Toyota Corolla, Ford Mondeo, Mazda6 and Chevrolet Trax compact SUV, which will be sold in Australia with a Holden badge - that are set to hit the showrooms over the next 12 months.

One of the stars of the show is sure to be the new McLaren P1 Supercar, the successor to the legendary F1. It will be the first time McLaren has displayed at the show and the company is aiming to make a lasting first impression.

McLaren expects its $2 million, 720kW hybrid V8 two-seater will claim the title as the world's fastest road car.

McLaren P1 supercar. Supplied picture

It also aims to challenge the likes of Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche as a maker of the world's most sought-after supercars on the back of an illustrious history in F1.

But pictures and the odd YouTube video clip are likely to be as close as Australian buyers will get to this left-hand-drive-only beast.

There will be plenty of other "eye candy" in Paris, with Aston Martin showing off its refreshed Aston Martin DB9. The eight-year-old DB9's upgrades for the 2013 model year include a new Virage-inspired look inside and out and more power for its V12 engine.

Porsche will be one of the many manufacturers using the show as the venue for a "world first", with the covers coming off the latest all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4 and 4S models.

The new F Type Jaguar. Picture: John Wycherley

Jaguar will also attract plenty of attention with its new F-Type sports car, the replacement for the legendary E-Type, which is virtually unchanged from the C-X16 concept that debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show a year ago, except it has been changed from a coupe to soft-top convertible.

Lexus LF-CC Concept. Supplied picture

Lexus will provide us with a hint as to how its next generation of IS models will look and drive with a handsome new coupe. The LF-CC concept, which is destined for production in the near future, is also a showcase for a downsized hybrid drivetrain that will be rolled out across the Lexus range.

An electric B-Class spearheads the Mercedes-Benz zero emission product offensive. Developed in partnership with Tesla, the near-to-production-ready B-Class Electric Drive - which has a range of 200km - will go on sale in early 2014.

BMW will preview its new direction by abandoning its tradition of longitudinally mounted engines and rear-wheel- drive with its Concept Active Tourer, a forerunner to the long-mooted range of front-wheel- drive entry-level BMWs.

The five-door hatchback is a plug-in hybrid with four-wheel- drive. A transversely mounted engine drives the front wheels - an acknowledgment that entry- level BMWs from the new small- car line-up will come with front- wheel-drive - and the rear wheels are powered by an electric motor.

Among the more radical-looking concept cars will be the Peugeot Onyx supercar.

The minimalist supercar concept was created by the French marque's designers in conjunction with Peugeot Sport and the research and development department of PSA Peugeot- Citroen.

The mid-engined, rear-drive car is mainly constructed from unprocessed raw materials and is underpinned by technology from the firm's Le Mans prototype.

The Onyx's wings and doors are made from copper sheeting fashioned by hand, while other panels are carbon-fibre. The windows and roof are made of a lightweight acrylic alternative to glass. The car, which weighs 1100kg, is built around a central carbon structure on to which the 3.7-litre V8 hybrid diesel engine and suspension are bolted.

Another slightly "out there" eye-catcher is the Nissan Terra, which is being billed as a technology demonstrator that shows the Japanese car maker is ready to mass-produce fuel-cell electric vehicles whenever hydrogen becomes widely available.

Nissan Terra SUV concept. Supplied picture

Nissan is playing down the significance of the Terra's chunky and angular styling with aggressive, squared-off wheel arches, which it describes as "modern toughness". However, the packaging gives some clues to the design of a future battery-powered off-roader, one of the possible spin-offs of the Leaf/Infiniti electric car platform.

The rear wheels each contain an electric motor and are based on the designs shown in successive Pivo city car concepts.

The West Australian

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