Was Paris a tipping point for electric cars? We mull it over

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Auto shows are sometimes hot, sometimes not.

A lot of it has to do with what cars are shown, whether they're pure design studies, concepts pointing toward future vehicles, or actual production cars.

And whether a show has "buzz" largely depends on the cadence of when automakers choose to release those different types of vehicles.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Renault Zoe electric car: larger battery doubles range

The Paris and Frankfurt motor shows are the first fall shows of the global season, and they occur on alternating years.

Most of the buzz for this year's Paris show was about electric cars, both concepts and production vehicles.

A host of sports car and luxury derivatives got a lot of media attention, but they don't do much to move the industry forward.

Longer-range Renault Zoe electric car, introduced at 2016 Paris Motor Show

Longer-range Renault Zoe electric car, introduced at 2016 Paris Motor Show

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Instead, this year's Paris show saw a surprise update to the Renault Zoe, Europe's best-selling electric car, that doubled its range to more than 150 miles in real-world use.

Mercedes-Benz showed a concept version of the all-electric luxury crossover utility vehicle it's expected to put into production about two years hence.

And Volkswagen showed its "I.D. Concept," a VW Golf-sized five-door all-electric hatchback that will go into production too ... although not until 2020.

Somewhat overlooked by U.S. media was the launch of the production Opel Ampera-e, essentially the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV wearing a mildly updated nose and badges of GM's German arm, Opel.

Opel Ampera-e at 2016 Paris Motor Show

Opel Ampera-e at 2016 Paris Motor Show

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There were also three models of Smart cars that debuted with their new Electric Drive powertrain option: the ForTwo coupe and ForTwo cabrio, which will come to North America, and the ForFour four-seat model, which won't.

As Smart said, that makes it the sole manufacturer to offer gasoline or all-electric drive on every vehicle in its lineup.

On the gasoline side of the house, Paris saw the global debut of the next-generation Kia Rio, but no major new global production cars from GM, Toyota, Volkswagen, or any of the German makers.

ALSO READ: Volkswagen ID: more details of all-electric concept car at Paris Motor Show

Instead, there were a host of variants, sportier models, and other derivatives.

So does that mean that the blaze of publicity in Paris was some sort of tipping point for electric cars, globally?

Probably not—despite a Reuters report using "tipping point" in its headline. (Thanks, Malcolm Gladwell.)

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