Frankfurt motor show
When Angela Merkel addressed the Frankfurt motor show,
it was not to a backdrop of revving engines but an exhibition of noiseless electric Golfs,
South Korean hybrids and Japanese fuel-cell cars.
The silence should have pleased the chancellor, who in the wake of
the VW emissions scandal has hinted at a possible ban on sales of
The diesel cars for which German manufacturers are renowned.
German cities plagued by air pollution, including Munich, home of BMW,
are mulling over the banning of diesel from their centres.
Internationally, the UK and France recently promised to ban sales of new petrol and
diesel cars by 2040, while carmakers including Volvo and
Jaguar Land Rover has raced to pledge electrification of their future models.
The summer of love for battery cars prompted newspaper editorials
Heralding the end of the internal combustion engine.
One bank even forecast that all new car sales in Europe would be electric within two decades.
Meanwhile, diesel car values have plummeted.
So it should perhaps come as no surprise that electric cars have
taken centre stage at the Frankfurt motor show, which opens to the public on Saturday.
BMW is showing off a new version of its popular i3
battery-powered car and new battery-powered Minis.
Rival Mercedes-Benz has introduced a futuristic concept electric car,
the EQA, which has pride of place at the centre of its hall,
and the company’s chief executive promised all models from 2022 will be electrified to some degree.
France’s Renault unveiled a concept electric car that could double as a backup battery for the home.
Japan’s Honda launched a boxy battery-powered concept car,
the Urban EV, which European motorists will be able to buy in 2019.
“This is not some vision of the distant future,” said the Honda chief executive,
Takahiro Hachigo, as he also pledged that all the company’s new models in Europe
would soon be either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric.
South Korean challenger Hyundai said more than half
The models it sells in Europe by 2020 will be battery-powered.
So is the internal combustion engine’s century-long reign coming to an end?
The carmakers here do not seriously believe that,
Despite the rhetoric and the prominence of battery models.
“That’s just hype,” said BMW’s Robert Irlinger, of the notion that conventional engines were dead. Irlinger, who heads the firm’s “i” electric division, expects electric models to make up only 15%-20% of the firm’s sales by 2025.
Irlinger, who heads the firm’s “i” electric division, expects electric models to make up only 15%-20% of the firm’s sales by 2025.
models to make up only 15%-20% of the firm’s sales by 2025.
“There is a change and we are really starting with electrified cars, but we do not hide our normal cars,” he said, adding that the company was putting a “huge amount of money” into the development of battery-powered cars.
BUT we do not hide our normal cars,” he said, adding that the company was putting a “huge amount of money” into the development of battery-powered cars.
“huge amount of money” into the development of battery-powered cars.
One Mercedes-Benz executive said that with €10bn committed to working
on electric vehicles, it was, if anything, overinvesting in the technology compared with its peers.