Andrew Cowell surveyed the crowds on the Citroën stand flocking round the new nemo with an air of quiet satisfaction and a smile on his face.
That smile was understandable – he’s the head of the project team that designed the nemo so his reputation stands or falls on the success of this new van.
Judging by the remarks of the visitors, Mr Cowell’s reputation is pretty safe. the nemo, and its twin brothers the Peugeot Bipper and Fiat Fiorino, so far seem to have been given the thumbs-up by both the world’s motoring press and the CV Show visitors.
The first surprise is that although Mr Cowell speaks fluent French – he has been based at the PSA offices in Paris for many years – he is in fact an englishman.
The second surprise is that although the nemo, Bipper and Fiorino are very much a PSA project, the van is in fact based on the Fiat Grande Punto platform.
Mr Cowell said: “When we started the project three years ago, we realised it would be uneconomical to build a brand new platform so we turned to our partners Fiat who had exactly what we wanted.”
Three years is a short gestation period for a brand new van, but Mr Cowell explained: “We had to get it out before the new Berlingo, as that vehicle was going to be a lot bigger than the old one and this one slots in just underneath in terms of size."
"If we didn’t have the nemo ready, there would be a gap in the commercial vehicle line-up."
“We were aware that when the old C15 ended production, it had become something of an icon and we wanted to produce another vehicle that will fill this gap.”
So will this van become an iconic product? “Very much so,’ said Mr Cowell. “We were looking to the future when designing the nemo and what problems need to be tackled."
"Congestion is increasing while roadspace is reducing so we wanted a compact van that was easy to manoeuvre and park. We also wanted to build a vehicle which has low Co2 emissions and also one which would appeal to small start-up firms."
" We believe that as the internet shopping boom increases, a lot of small firms will be starting up and those people will want small vehicles which are good looking and cheap to run.”