TOP automakers have given a peek at their electric model plans at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA 2019) against the backdrop of industry concerns over the US-China trade tensions.
The likes of Daimler AG, through unit Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen AG, showed off their sleek electric vehicles (EVs) with the industry undergoing a radical overhaul as the end of the combustion-engine era looms.
The geopolical volatility adds another layer of uncertainty to the industry and Daimler is one of the first car manufacturers to warn of the growing headwinds from the US-China trade spat.
Taking the limelight at the IAA 2019 media preview on Tuesday prior to the show’s public opening was the world premiere of Mercedes’ Vision EQS.
The sleek Vision EQS is a glimpse of what a large luxury sedan from the world’s No. 1 luxury car company will look like in the near future.
It is essentially the S-Class of the future. It is Mercedes’ first big step towards the vision of making its cars CO2-neutral by 2039.
The Vision, which is built upon the Mercedes EQC, the carmaker’s first production electric vehicle, boasts an elegant yet dynamic exterior design with highly crafted and sustainable luxury inside.
This electric car sprints from standstill to 100km in just under 4.5 seconds, while boasting 350 kilowatt of output and 760 Nm of torque.
Vision EQS can recharge from 0-80 per cent in less than 20 minutes. When fully charged, it can cover a range of up to 750km.
Mercedes did not say when Vision EQS would be on sale but outlined plans to roll out at least 10 purely electric cars in the coming years.
Other attractions at the sprawling Mercedes booth are the EQV, an electric version of the brand’s V-class passenger van, and plug-in hybrid versions of its compact line-up such as the A250e hatchback, A250e sedan and B250e minivan.
The GLB compact SUV also made its first-show debut since being unveiled in June.
At separate halls, Volkswagen and its luxury car arm, Audi, are showcasing their new line-up of possible challengers to Mercedes’ electric models.
Volkswagen’s long-awaited ID.3 compact electric car made its debut just before deliveries were scheduled to begin in Europe.
The ID.3 is Volkswagen’s first EV to use the MEB electric car platform, a key part in its goal to sell one million EVs a year by 2025.
Audi features its AI:Trail concept vehicle, a possible electric SUV with off-road capability, and an RS6 performance version of the A6.
Two big news events at the show were the launch of Porsche’s first electric sports car called Taycan (pronounced Tie-can) and the return of the Land Rover Defender.
The four-seater Taycan boasts two electric motors, all-wheel drive, up to 750 horsepower and a top speed of 160mph.
The Defender is making a comeback after production was stopped in 2016, ending a 67-year run. The off-roader will be available in two body lengths when it goes on sale next year.
BMW, meanwhile, unveiled a new front-wheel drive 1-series hatchback and a wider and longer X6 SUV, with the most powerful variant at the show having 530hp.
Ford is featuring the new Puma subcompact SUV and plug-in hybrid of Kuga compact SUV, among others.
Honda is among a few Asian automakers not skipping the show. It is showcasing its new small full-electric hatchback called Honda e. Reports estimated that the car will sell for between 28,000 and 35,000 euros.
Chinese companies flock to IAA
WHILE a number of Asian automakers skipped the show, Chinese companies, from automakers to electric vehicle battery suppliers had a busy day at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA 2019).
Nissan and Toyota were among the bigger Japanese carmakers to give this year’s IAA a miss, along with European counterparts such as Fiat and Peugeot.
Pressure to reduce CO2 emissions in the automotive industry has seen the rise of electric vehicle battery makers, mainly from China.
Farasis Energy, a Chinese-backed American company sealed a deal to supply lithium-ion batteries to Daimler for the electrification of its Mercedes-Benz cars. According to Reuters, Farasis is constructing a 600-million euro plant in Bitterfeld-Wolfen in Germany’s Saxony-Anhalt region and the battery-producing process will be powered by renewable sources.
SVOLT Energy Technology will also start making batteries in Europe in a two-billion euro factory by 2023. The company showcased its slew of EV batteries which employ ‘stacking technology’, including the NCM 811 high-energy-density battery cells as well as its battery modules, PACKs and BMS, which provide battery system solutions for PHEV and BEV specifically designed for the European market.
Ningde-based CATL, which also has a plant under construction in Erfurt, Germany displayed its latest NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) and LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries that offer ultra-fast charging and long life. Chinese carmakers are also pushing their vehicles into new European markets.
Great Wall Motors chairman Wei Jianjun told Reuters the company plans to sell WEY-branded SUVs to the EU in two years, and once sales hit 50,000 units a year it may consider building a car manufacturing facility in the region. In the earlier stage, the company plans to export its China-made cars into the region. Its brand of vehicle, Haval is currently present in Italy.
Other Chinese carmakers making their presence felt with their latest automobiles include FAW and Byton.