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(Pocket-lint) - Every other year car makers, journalists and public descend on Paris for a few days in late September, to attend what is Europe's largest motor show, or Mondial de l'Automobile if you're feeling especially French.

Alternating with the Frankfurt show in Germany, Paris usually brings out the best in the French brands. Historically it's been the launch place for many important cars, but you could find any brand you care to name in the halls in Porte de Versailles.

Or that used to be the case - but it's not this year. For times, they are a changing, and the Paris Motor Show was not what it once was.

Which means that Ford, along with Volvo, Mazda, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Bentley and Tesla have all chosen to skip this year's Paris show - instead saving their money (it costs brands well over £10m to attend a show), or spending it on stand-alone events where they'll dominate the new cycle. It's leading some we're speaking to here in Paris predicting that the Motor Show format is about to die.

But while it's still with us, this year's Paris show has some interesting debuts. Predictably the French brands are out in force, with Citroen showing a fun new C3 supermini that's Cactus-inspired; Renault showing a wild, top-canopy-opening GT super coupe concept; and Peugeot showing a new 3008 and 5008 that are very different from before.

Yet it's the German brands where the shake-up can be seen most prominently. After BMW's i brand launch and Volkswagen's dieselgate debacle, we see the Germans trying desperately to get together with electro-mobility.

Brands like VW and Mercedes are in the unusual position of playing catch up and promising real-world usable electric cars within two to three years - as previewed in Paris by concept displays.

It's just a pity for them that at the same show, Renault has put a battery in the Zoe that's been on the market for three years, which will take it 400km (250-miles) on one charge.

Writing by Joe Simpson. Originally published on 30 September 2016.