Sunday 19 August 2018

Inside the Frankfurt Motor Show: 'EVs, SUVs and concept models everywhere'

EVs, SUVs and concept models everywhere, but still plenty of life in old reliables

Honda CR-V Hybrid
Honda CR-V Hybrid
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

It is almost like an Electric Picnic here at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Everywhere you look there are fleets of electric cars, or petrol-electric hybrids, either ready for production or debuting as future-heralding concepts.

BMW X7 Concept
BMW X7 Concept

From Audi to BMW (they unfurled a massive number) to MINI to Mercedes, Porsche, you name it, there's an electric-hybrid or pure EV (electric vehicle) coming at you from somewhere.

Sometimes a show can come to define a new era. I know it's a terribly worn phrase but from where I'm sitting at this Frankfurt Show right now, I can't help but think we'll look back and say: "EV time really kicked in from there."

Ford EcoSport
Ford EcoSport

Of course things and trends can change but this already feels like the future somehow.

Sure the majority of them are concepts, part of a wave of EVs by 2020 and further afield from so many automakers.

Lexus NX300h
Lexus NX300h

But there is no going back, it would appear.

They've already well and truly plugged into our futures.

Subaru Impreza
Subaru Impreza

Of course we knew, sensed, it was coming from a long way back.

And, of course, there has been a continuous stream of promises and proclamations from the global giants about having to reduce emissions.

Mercedes EQA Concept
Mercedes EQA Concept

But when it manifests itself like this, well, you get the rare sense of seismic shift.

Just take the Volkswagen Group, whose emissions scandal has helped so much to accelerate the push away from diesel towards electric/petrol.

MINI electric concept
MINI electric concept

The group marks its presence here with what it calls the "most comprehensive electrification initiative in the automotive industry" with its Roadmap E.

To put that in context, they are talking about bringing, as a group, around 80 new electric vehicles to market by 2025. That is a lot of EVs. Any doubts about that seismic shift are well and truly banished by such a public commitment, I think.

Kia Proceed Concept
Kia Proceed Concept

What it all means for you and me remains to be seen but one thing is for sure: as a country we'll have to move with the times that are coming or get left behind.

There are serious challenges posed by this move for governments and for those they supposedly govern.

The good news, if I can call it that, is that it's not all electric.

There is plenty of room here too for autonomous driving cars, self-driving concepts and some stunning designs - especially from Mercedes.

As KIA's powertrain expert Michael Winkler says elsewhere in these pages, the future is all about the share of what power drives your car.

Diesel will not be as prominent but it's not dead by a long shot. I sense a bit of a fightback. There's change at different levels. The move towards autonomous driving continues apace.

We're awash here too with even more SUVs, especially small ones such as the KIA Stonic, SEAT Arona and Hyundai Kona. The Citroen C3 Aircross springs to mind too.

And the blurring of borders between traditional segments is typified, by KIA again, with a foretaste of what their new cee'd will look like when it arrives in Ireland late next year.

You should see the Proceed Concept on which it is going to be based.

As I've said elsewhere, if they retain 20pc of that stunning design, the whole family hatch market as we know it is going to be revolutionised.

Finally, it is easy, in the midst of all the EV talk, to overlook the cars that will sustain us for many years to come.

I'm thinking in particular of the likes of the new Dacia Duster - a car close to many Irish hearts.

While I don't have a price, I do know it has to be/will be highly competitive because lots of us need our bargain-basement cars.

The Duster may be more evolution than revolution, to quote an old cliché, but it can do a real job for thousands of Irish families.

Indo Motoring

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