[singlepic id=3315 w=720 h=380 float=center] Whenever a government is planning a special event, one of the calls they make is to their home automakers asking if they could build/borrow a vehicle for their special event. For an automaker, this is big deal. Building or allowing a government to use one of your vehicles brings a lot of attention to your brand. For a government, a vehicle built/borrow for the occasion can make it much more special.
On May 16, 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy was inaugurated as France’s twenty-third president. The vehicle he rode in during the inauguration parade wasn’t your normal Citroen C6, Peugeot 607, or Renault Vel Satis state vehicle. Nope, Sarkozy rode in a very special vehicle; the Peugeot 607 Paladine concept. [singlepic id=3309 w=720 h=800 float=center] The Peugeot 607 Paladine concept was first shown at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show. Built alongside French company Heuliez, the two took a regular 607 and stretched it twenty inches. The interior was inundated with many luxuries including special leather upholstery, minifridge, and a collapsible table with a computer. But the show piece of the Paladine was its roof. The back half of the Paladine’s roof could fold away into the trunk, providing rear passengers a view of the sky. [singlepic id=3310 w=500 h=333 float=center] How the 607 Paladine concept ended up as Sarkozy’s ride is not known (either the French government asked Peugeot or Peugeot said to French Government its ok to borrow it), but before it could become Sarkozy’s ride, Peugeot made some changes to the concept to make it ready. The most apparent is front clip being changed to have the Paladine concept in line with the current 607. [singlepic id=3314 w=458 h=299 float=center] A year later in China, the People’s Liberation Army’s General Armament Department (Yes that is the actual name of the department) wanted to throw a parade for the Astronauts going up on the Shenzhou VII mission. This mission would be the first to send three Astronauts into space and for one to make China’s first space walk. This was an important event the People’s Liberation Army’s General Armament Department wanted to get right. [singlepic id=3312 w=458 h=310 float=center] There was a problem though; the vehicle that is commonly used in parades is the Hongqi CA7202E3-L. Besides having a name that rolls off the tongue, the CA7202E3-L is an Audi 100 powered by Nissan engine. Not a very patriotic vehicle to celebrate this momentous occasion. The department wanted something Chinese than a German/Japanese hybrid. So they called on Chery Automotive to make them three parade vehicles. Chery knew national pride was on the line and began work. They took three of their mid-size Eastar sedans, added twenty inches to the middle, cut the roof off, added a rollbar, and painted the Chery logo in gold. [singlepic id=3313 w=450 h=672 float=center] September 29, 2008. The Shenzhou VII mission was a great success and the astronauts returned safety to earth. Chery rolled out the three Eastar parade cars and took the astronauts on a parade in Beijing where they were celebrated. But that wasn’t the only parade; the astronauts and Eastar parade vehicles were taken to other cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and even Hong Kong.
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