Friday, July 3, 2009

Why Porsche Left the Detroit Show for Shanghai

In April, Porsche flew me to China to witness the unveiling of its new Panamera at the Shanghai international auto show. Porsche’s accountants are probably wondering why they spent so much just to get a few of us there to run our fingers along the car’s flanks, but this was in fact a good PR move. Photos do not do the car justice—there is something hideously freakish about the Panamera’s proportions as captured through the lens—and it takes some dedicated and serious walking around to begin to appreciate its visuals. Also, the interior of the Panamera makes other luxury-car cabins look like they came out of a Gremlin. By the time I get to drive it, I know I’ll want to harvest a couple of internal organs to buy one.

The Porsche stand occupied a small corner of the first building at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre on the Huangpu River, a body of water whose name accurately conveys the nature of its olfactory affront. There were 11 buildings in total. Each contained a confusion of new-product hysteria (Chinese automaker Geely alone launched 22 vehicles here, and all of them evinced fit and finish to shame the yak carts Geely tried to pass off at Detroit just two years ago); warring, contemporaneous press conferences blasting Chinese pop over loudspeakers aimed at rival booths like galleons; and a kind of fetid, sour-cabbage smell that unified the whole.

Keep Reading: Eddie Alterman: Why Porsche Left the Detroit Show for Shanghai - Column


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