October 1st, 2010
01:30 PM GMT
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Paris, France (CNN) - As I sit at Ford's massive stand here at Paris Motor Show, I can see new C-Max models, new Focus models, new Mondeo models, but not a single female model.

I can't remember Ford having the ubiquitous "pretty model" standing by its cars at the last car show either.

No matter, a 30-second walk to Chrysler proves it’s not just an “American” thing. There are plenty of young, tall and always female models in short blue dresses here. Then again, Chrysler is controlled by Italian car company Fiat. It does seem to me the Italian models (the ones made of metal) seem to always have the other kind of models standing next to them.

Now I'm at Alfa Romeo and the ladies are all in black with high heels and lots of bling. Across the way is Ferrari and, well, what can I say? At least there are no bikinis.

David Fitzpatrick, account director at automotive PR agency PFPR Communications, was recently quoted as saying that the “days of bikini-clad women on bonnets are long gone.”

Many women will be cheering that development, especially the ones employed within the industry. The question is whether carmakers are just moving with the times, or whether they are making a deliberate effort not to alienate female car buyers. In tough times for the auto industry, perhaps they should consider going one step further and dispensing with models all together. Just a thought.

Off to Maserati and well, for such a small brand there is a lot of media attention (could the red wine and chef slicing beef have anything to do with it?). At least here there aren't the living models standing quietly next to each car. So it appears not all Italian brands feel the need to accessorize their vehicles with women. Or maybe they are just on a break. I think I'll walk back to Ferrari.

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Filed under: Auto industry

October 1st, 2010
02:41 AM GMT
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Consumer prices in Japan extended their decline for an 18th straight month.

The core consumer price index, which strips out volatile fresh food prices, fell 1 percent in August from a year earlier. That compares to a decline of 1.1 percent in July.

"You've seen deflation pressure easing slightly for the past 12 months," said Richard Jerram, chief economist at Macquarie Securities in Japan. "But it's still a big problem."

Analysts say the country may remain mired in deflation because of the strengthening yen. A stronger yen is making imports cheaper to buy, giving retailers an incentive to lower prices in order to attract more customers.

The yen's rise has also been weighing heavily on Japan’s big exporters and undermining the country's fragile recovery.

An earlier report showed exports have been slowing for six straight month, mainly because a stronger yen and weakening overseas demand.

Despite the uncertainty, the country's labor market has been showing signs of improvement.

The jobless rate slipped to 5.1 percent in August from a previous reading of 5.2 percent. The reading was inline with expectations.

Last week the government said it was planning to introduce a supplementary budget of about $55 billion to pay for a new stimulus plan.

Jerram described the measures as nothing more than smoke and mirrors and won't have the impact needed to stimulate domestic demand. Part of the problem, he says, is Japan’s reliance on exports to boost growth rather than dealing with its domestic troubles, which is what's needed to turn the economy around.

"The government is struggling for good ideas on how to stimulate growth," said Jerram.

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