Transport as status symbol


“The utilitarian component of the purchase is uppermost. Costs carry more weight with consumers than image or prestige. Nor does it make much difference if it’s new or second-hand. Even switching from one make to another is no longer an issue. There is every indication the car is no longer an emblematic object”

Guillame Paoli, Head of Aramis Auto. Reported In Le Monde and reprinted in The Guardian Weekly (14th November 2014, p31)

This for me, is the quote of the week. I’ve always felt that the French take a more pragmatic view of the automobile. When I holiday in France, in my gun-metal grey, big boxy and choc full of stuff Citroen Berlingo, it always feels at home. Utilitarian vehicles rumble up and down the roads, depositing people and things before being parked up to collect dust until the next time it needs to be employed. A tool for a specific job, if you will. The French – according to Eric Fouquier, head of the market research firm Thema  – perceive more frivolous cars as ‘a clumsy assertion of social status’.  Oh how I would to see that thinking exported like those other Fabulous French products: Croissants. Brie. The movies of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Bordeaux. The Tour De France. Because when the bonds of our emotional attachment to the car are weakened and automobiles toppled from their lusted after and lofty status, then we’ll have a far better opportunity to restore some sense, balance and calm to our traffic choked city centres, without losing all sense of perspective.

Top image: Cycling along the Champs-Y-Elysses. Image available for purchase from the New York Times.

Below. Spoof Citroen Berlingo ad produced for another post: Responsible advertising

Citroen Berlingo ad


4 replies »

  1. I haven’t experienced traffic for quite a while now but I hear it’s getting worse. Talked to a friend earlier who complained about the worsening traffic. A distance of less than 10km now takes 3hrs in my city. Sounds pretty bad.

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