Monday 23 September 2019

The show goes on and it's any car you want - so long as it's electrified

Frankfurt show

Volkswagen ID electric car
Volkswagen ID electric car
A BMW Concept 4 coupe stands on display at the 2019 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show
The Mercedes Vision EQS of German car maker Mercedes is pictured at the company's booth at the Frankfurt motor show
The new Land Rover Defender stands on display at the 2019 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show on September 10, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

WE'RE getting to the stage where Henry Ford's slogan of 'any colour you want so long as it's black' is being repeated for electric cars.

It is most definitely a case of 'any car you want so long as it is electrified'.

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This year's Frankfurt Show, which opened yesterday bereft of some big names, is mainly about electric cars.

They range from Volkswagen's ID3 family hatch to the large, stunning EQS concept from Mercedes, to BMW's i Hydrogen Next that previews a future fuel-cell car.

Nearly anything goes, so long as it's electric; flights of design and power-train fancy have assumed a hard-edged reality - instead of the fanciful fripperies of years back.

The reality is that they are, in so many respects, our (electric) cars of the future.

After all we are expected to be driving around one million EVs by 2030, aren't we?

It is impossible from where I'm sitting here - opposite a mesmeric Mercedes concept - not to note the contrast with a few years ago as the Dieselgate scandal shredded the motoring blueprint we had known for so long.

Now Volkswagen has re-invented itself and is charging into electric cars with the zeal of the convert.

It and virtually every other carmaker has joined the frantic race to meet the new-mindset demand from consumers and regulators.

The Mercedes Vision EQS of German car maker Mercedes is pictured at the company's booth at the Frankfurt motor show
The Mercedes Vision EQS of German car maker Mercedes is pictured at the company's booth at the Frankfurt motor show

An acute example of the electric conversion is how even the new Land Rover Defender, a historically hard-core symbol of fossil-fuel power, has electrified versions (mild and plug-in hybrids) as well as its diesels and petrols.

It got an emotional welcome when unveiled here yesterday and despite the brush of modernity it is still claimed to be the best off-roader in the business; an icon reborn as a tough upmarket 4x4, if you like.

It has configurable terrain response which lets even the likes of me optimise traction regardless of conditions.

And they claim it is a lot more comfortable on the road. We'll see.

Some of the structural elements inside are left exposed as part of retaining its rugged lineage and there is a central front jump seat.

The Defender 110 version has five, six or 5+2 seating and there is the smaller Defender 90 which accommodates six.

The new Land Rover Defender stands on display at the 2019 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show on September 10, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
The new Land Rover Defender stands on display at the 2019 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show on September 10, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

For most Irish buyers the choice will be from two 4cyl diesels - the D200 and D240.

Back on track I continue my trawl; everywhere I look there are electric cars of some shape or form.

Here's just a sample to give you an idea of how much of a swing there has been.

Stunning-looking concepts from BMW preview the next-generation 4 Series, and i4, while the Hyundai 45 Concept shows that brand's design direction for future EVs.

Porsche's new Taycan is being hailed as the car to set new EV benchmarks.

One of the stand-out cars is the Mercedes 470bhp luxury EV Vision EQS electric flagship. I hope it makes it to production (2021) without major compromise. It is one of a massive display and array of EV and electrified cars coming from the German giant.

KIA's plug-in version of its newly launched and already widely praised XCeed urban compact crossover was around. Watch out for this car. Again, it's one of several KIAs that will be 'electrified'.

The electric Honda E is now a 5dr and uses cameras instead of door mirrors. There is a hole in the bonnet to let the charge point through. It's cute, somehow.

Opel is showing its new electric Corsa. Nice little car that.

Lamborghini's outrageous Sian 808bhp hypercar is a hybrid and makes its public debut here too.

Cupra shows its Tavascan EV concept while Skoda promotes its Citigo-e iV… the list goes on.

But thankfully there are some exceptions.

Audi is showing its hot SQ8 new flagship SUV and the redesigned RS7 has a good old powerhouse V8 that pumps 591bhp.

For all that, wasn't it fitting, given what's happened, that Volkswagen should steal the limelight again - by formally unveiling its new ID electric car the night before the show.

As you probably know at this stage, there will be a sub-€40,000 limited launch version in the summer.

But the lower-priced versions don't get here until late next year, making them January 2021 purchases.

They will cost from under €30,000 after the €5,000 VRT rebate and €5,000 SEAI grant are deducted.

There will be several IDs over the coming years believe me.

The car is as compact as a Golf but really roomy inside (they claim nearly Passat capacity). That's my impression after sitting in.

It is narrower in the cabin than you'd imagine but the space opens up lengthwise.

Volkswagen is (surely?) sending a clear signal to rivals such as the Nissan LEAF with that sub €30,000 start.

A larger ID 4 concept, a rival for the likes of the KIA eNiro, is said to have the US market in its sights.

Yes, we've all come a long way since Dieselgate four years ago.

But now the real work begins: making the cars on show become a reality - and making sure we can power them.

I can't help wondering - and I'm sure you are the same - where we'll be in four years' time?

The main  debuts

Audi: Fourth-gen A3, RS6 Sport's flagship wagon; 4-litre V8 power upgraded to 605bhp. RS7 Sportback shares 600bhp+ V8 with RS6. S8 performance saloon, new SQ8 hot SUV, facelifted Q7. Several A1 concepts - off-road to urban, RS Q3 Sportback.

BMW: X6 with revamped styling, engines. iNext concept, Vision M concept 591bhp 2-seat PHEV.

Cupra: Electric Tavascan concept coupé-style SUV.

Honda: Electric city car.

Hyundai: New i10 shares platform with Kia Picanto. All-electric race car; i30 N Project C.

Kia: Plug-in hybrid version of urban crossover XCeed.

Lamborghini: Sian hybrid Aventador replacement.

Land Rover Defender: Three bodystyles, range of diesel, petrol and 'electrified' powertrains.

Mercedes: Electric EQS luxury flagship concept, EQV people carrier. New GLB (between GLA/larger GLC), AMG GLB 35, AMG GLE 53, AMG A45, AMG GLC 43 variants. Several plug-ins: A250, B250, GLE 350. GLE Coupe also debuts. ESF concept.

MINI Electric: Based on 3dr Cooper. November production.

Opel: New Corsa with petrol, diesel and electric powertrains. Grandland X PHEV. Astra gets a range of 'exclusive' engines.

Porsche: Taycan begins new era for brand.

Renault: Captur, major cabin revamp. Plug-in E-Tech due 2020.

SEAT: Taracco 242bhp PHEV.

Volkswagen ID 3: First dedicated EV model. Range 328km to 545km, depending on battery size. Three variants.

Irish Independent

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