Sunday Roast: Why the French have shamed us

Renault Avantime

Is it actually possible that the French love their cars more than we do? The country that made its own roads hazardous to unwary eyes by building, and then actually buying more than one of, the Renault Avantime?

Incredibly, it seems the Japanese, Americans, Germans and even the Swiss have more interest in cars than Australians (okay, so the Germans aren't a shock). All of the above countries still have international motor shows, see, and we don’t.

I recently returned from the 2014 Paris Show, which is an event of staggering size and grandiose expense. The shows we used to have, in Jeff’s Shed and the now razed Darling Harbour, were a few blokes standing around in a field by comparison, and would easily have fit inside just one of the five huge halls that host Mondial de l’Automotive 2014.

And are the public interested in this bi-annual car fest? Not half. The 2012 Paris Show attracted more than 1.2 million visitors – 350,000 more than Frankfurt in 2013 and 561,000 more than Geneva earlier this year. More are expected this time and the tickets are a whopping 50 euros each. Do the math.  

While the Aussie show went under, even before our local industry was eviscerated, this French extravaganza is making an absolute fortune.

The Detroit show, held in a war zone in arctic temperatures, is also flourishing, the Los Angeles and New York versions get bigger each year and Tokyo is completely bananas. Or lychees.

Our event seemed to fall apart due to various levels of whining, incompetence, profiteering (car companies were getting financially gouged to attend and had had enough of it) and a lack of public interest.

We were also told, by various parties, that the world has simply changed, motor shows don't sell cars anymore; the internet does, so there’s no point, commercially, in having one anymore.

But they used to be such fun, didn’t they? Holden unveiling the Monaro concept, a new Torana, yet another enormous wing for another enormous FPV and Toyota folk looking genuinely excited when they pulled the silk sheet off the Avalon.

So why hasn’t the rest of the world abandoned the idea of the giant, glamorous car show the way we have? Are we simply more apathetic than most?

Well here’s an interesting point to consider. The only other car-loving country that used to have a big, international motoring show but hosts one no loner, having axed it in 2010 is … Britain.

Us and the Poms. Just saying.

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