If you come to the Frankfurt motor show with the expectation to see a multitude of production-ready electric cars, you are in for a disappointment. Tantalising as the homeplayers' concept cars may be, they are far from mature. The carmakers that do have a brand new EV which you can actually order, decided not to come to the IAA this year.
Tesla – probably wisely – chose not to cross the Atlantic and show its brand-new 35,000-euro D-segment model to the European public. To really make an impression, you need a mind-boggling and for a small OEM unjustifiably high booth budget. Besides, the eagerest of customers have ordered their Model 3 a year ago online – indeed, digital is the way Tesla wants to work.
Nissan last week revealed the long-awaited successor to the first-generation Leaf. The new model has unanimously been described as an aesthetic relief (or should we say re-Leaf) from the too eccentric-looking Mk I, while offering a convincing range of 380 km (NEDC). Moreover, the new Leaf introduces comfort and safety-enhancing ADAS for stress-free stop & go traffic.
Which makes it all the more regrettable that Nissan did not invest in a booth in Frankfurt. Then again, the same remark as above applies here, too. To compete with local EV rivals Opel, BMW, Mercedes and VW and get a glimpse of attention at the IAA, you need more than just a few € 100k.
The German waiting game
Which brings us to the big boys of the motor show. The ‘slimmest’ of them all – the brand with the Blitz logo – brought the Ampera-e to the IAA, but that was not a premiere. The Chevrolet-built five-door hatchback made a tremendous impact last year at the Paris motor show, with its 500km + range, but volume restrictions make the car still a very rare sight on European roads.
BMW shows an upgraded version of its i3 electric city car on its stand, but the real revelation was the iVision Dynamics concept. If there is one rival it shoots its arrows at, it must be the Tesla Model 3, but unlike the Californian car, the 3 Series-sized Bavarian sports sedan with a projected range of 600 km won’t be seen in the brand’s showrooms before 2021.
Allegedly closer to production is VW’s I.D. Crozz concept, heralding a compact SUV with advanced autonomous driving skills that will hit the road by 2020. By then, the Golf-sized hatchback model carrying the same I.D. badge will also be available, with the incredibly eye-catching and crowd-pleasing I.D. Buzz following two years later.
The question everyone asks, is whether Mercedes will beat VW to become the first mass-production brand to get a compact, highly automated and electric hatchback to market. The EQA concept car in Frankfurt looks far from assembly ready, but in an automotive world evolving as dramatically as it is today, books are better not judged by their cover.