Paris - Time to say au revoir to the traditional motor show? With the Paris event starting next week, this once-unthinkable question is being asked, particularly in the wake of significant ‘no shows’ at one of Europe’s largest motor fairs.

The big French manufacturers - Peugeot, Citroen and Renault - will, of course, be there to fly the Tricolore in a showcase for Gallic pride, just as the Germans strut their industrial might at  Frankfurt every other  year.

As a sign of the high-tech times, Peugeot is unveiling a new prototype, retro-styled, all-electric, self-driving car, the e-Legend.

Stylistically, it’s a modern twist on the classic Sixties 504 coupe, but with a step towards a driverless car in which you can stow away the steering wheel and read a magazine while the car does all the work.

The new BMW 3 Series will also make its debut at the show, as will the new Mercedes B-Class among other premieres.

But among the big names not turning up in  Paris this year are: Ford, Nissan, VW, Volvo, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Mazda,  Mini, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Mitsubishi.

And other marques are being represented by local dealers, rather than the manufacturer. This is not a one-off blip, but a growing trend. The last rites were said over the British Motor Show some years back.

In this internet age, it’s felt only tyre-kickers, who rarely buy, go to shows while major car manufacturers prefer to hold their own exclusive events.

End of the road for motor fairs?