Paris Auto Show previews to press as automakers tout new models, strategies

More than 375 companies from 26 countries prepared to show off the first models of their 2008 lines even as negotiations on the sidelines of the Paris Auto Show found major automakers trying to form partnerships in an industry beset by rising costs, job cuts and consumers looking for more fuel-efficient cars.

The Mondial de L'Automobile is expected to showcase more than 60 new automobile models and glitzy concept cars from manufacturers from Detroit to China and is expected to draw more than a million visitors.

After two days of press events, it opens to the public from Sept. 30 until Oct. 15.

But the glamour of new designs and products has been overshadowed by an industry facing troubled times.

Ahead of the event, talks between General Motors on a possible alliance with France's Renault and Japan's Nissan dominated the show.

For the first time, Detroit-based GM said clearly that it was unhappy with the plan on the table, as Chief Executive Rick Wagoner met for talks with Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn on the eve of the show.

GM sees a smaller payoff for its own shareholders than for those of Renault and Nissan, spokesman Brian Akre said Wednesday, and is seeking compensation for that imbalance as part of any deal, reports AP.

"The benefits identified so far are disproportionate among the companies," Akre said. "GM would be looking at ways to alleviate that concern. Speaking hypothetically, that could include a payment, that could include a number of different options."

He declined to comment on a report in The Wall Street Journal that GM is asking for a multibillion-dollar (euro) sum from Renault and Nissan.

Urged on by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, who owns 10 percent of the company, GM agreed in July to enter confidential exploratory talks with Renault and Nissan but has been coming under increasingly public pressure to sign up to a three-way alliance.

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