JCB’s roundup of the #IAA2017: Electric intentions revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show

The Frankfurt Motor Show is the biggest car show in Europe, and not just in importance – it’s more than a mile from end to end, and almost as wide, with car manufacturers using the show to dazzle visitors with cars that are greener, smarter and faster than ever.

Volkswagen, the world’s biggest carmaker, used Frankfurt to announce that it will offer an electric version of all its 300 models by 2030 and 80 new electric cars across the group by 2025, becoming the latest manufacturer to move away from petrol and diesel.

Volkswagen Group Chief Matthias Mueller announced that the firm had “got the message”.

“Customers want clean vehicles. People want to have clean air, and we want to make our contribution here,” he said.

The German car maker, whose brands include Seat and Skoda, also said it would place orders worth more than 50bn euros for batteries to power the cars.

VW is confident its petrol and diesel engines are now clean, Mr Mueller said but he added that it could not drop combustion engines entirely yet because the infrastructure for electric vehicles was not in place.

“There will be a coexistence between internal combustion engines and electric drive systems for a certain period – I can’t tell you how long that will be,” he said.

While this announcement hit the headlines, elsewhere tongues were wagging when Volkswagen Group’s Bugatti once again demonstrated the awesome capabilities of its newest car, with a record breaking run that saw the $3 million Chiron accelerate from a standstill to 400 kph (249 mph) and then come to a stop in just 41.96 seconds.

The Volkswagen brand used Frankfurt to begin its countdown to 2020, when it says there will be a “breakthrough in electric mobility”, unveiling its new generation of innovative electric vehicles – the I.D.2, I.D. BUZZ3 and I.D.CROZZ.

Also on offer from VW, was the debut of the T-Roc, based on the Golf hatchback. As with the other junior crossovers in the market, VW is thinking big for its new small car. With prices starting from around £19,000 putting it in direct competition with the Mazda CX-3, Mini Countryman and the Audi Q2, which it shares tech with, quite understandably, it’s estimated this new T-Roc will be one of its biggest sellers in the UK and across Europe.

Like the Q2 and Golf, the T-Roc uses the VW Group’s MQB platform, and engines are from the Golf, too. There are six on offer, three petrol and three diesel. VW’s latest 113bhp 1.0 TSI turbo petrol and 148bhp 1.5 TSI Evo with cylinder deactivation will be available, while a 197bhp version of the ubiquitous 2.0 TSI completes the petrol line-up.

The T-Roc’s styling is a bit more adventurous to the larger Tiguan, coming in some striking colour choices and a contrasting roof that extends down the A-pillar between the windscreen and front door.

Inside, you get exactly what you’d expect from VW – excellent build quality and ergonomics as well as a dash of body colour across the dash.

Space and practicality hasn’t been sacrificed for outright style though, as there’s a handy recess in the roofline that creates more headroom. There’s a decent boot of 445 litres, which expands to 1,290 litres with the rear seats folded flat. For comparison, an Audi Q2 boasts 405 litres with the seats up, and 1,050 litres with the seats down.

 

Over at Skoda, they used the event to debut their new compact SUV, the Karoq.

It has a relatively long wheelbase in relation to the overall length, so will be fairly spacious. Skoda also claims best-in-class luggage space, at 521 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,630 litres when they’re folded. There is also the option of VarioFlex rear seating, with three separate rear seats that can be individually adjusted. When they’re removed the total load volume is a van-like 1,810 litres.

It also features a fully customisable digital instrument panel in which the displays can be personalised and are linked to the infotainment system. Full connectivity and internet access are a given.

Five engines will be available initially, two petrol (both new to Skoda) and three diesel, with between 115 and 190PS.

Another public debut came from SEAT, who have doubled their SUV portfolio with the introduction of the all-new Arona.

Rivaling the Nissan Juke, it sits underneath the Ateca in the SEAT range, using the same platform as the all-new Ibiza. It will be available to buy from early 2018 and is expected to cost from around £15,000.

In terms of size the Arona is very slightly longer than the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur – but its 400 litre load capacity is a decent bit larger than the 354 litres in the Nissan and 377 litres for the Captur. If the cabin space in the Ibiza is anything to go by, the Arona should provide more rear leg and headroom than a Juke too.

Up front, the similarities with Ibiza continue. The centre stack features the same, driver-facing layout and touchscreen system, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. It’ll be offered with a huge range of high-tech equipment too, including adaptive cruise control, auto emergency brakes, lane keeping assistance and wireless smartphone charging.

The trim structure will follow other SEAT models, with S, SE, SE Technology, FR and Xcellence trim levels. The FR variant gets sportier styling and suspension, but other equipment details, as well as pricing information, will be confirmed nearer the car’s on sale date.

While multiple electric cars were revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2017, one in particular stole the show in our opinion.

When Honda revealed its Urban EV Concept it became an instant hit with the crowds thanks to its retro styling and cute proportions.

Many electric cars opt for futuristic styling, which at times can be a little bit over the top. This quirky EV’s styling is reminiscent of the 1970s VW Golf GTI, even down to its old-fashioned multi-spoke wheels, mixed with an Iphone. If Apple were ever to make an electric car, surely this is what it’d look like?

Inside the car is where the vehicle shakes its retro image with a completely modern cabin. On the dashboard sits a huge touchscreen panel which stretches almost all the way across the day and a smaller wraparound screen next to the driver.

Most significant about the Urban EV is that the car will actually enter production as early as 2019 and Honda say it won’t look that different when it does reach Europe.

The second of Honda’s announcements was its commitment to electric cars from 2018.

“Here in Europe, we see this move towards electrification gathering pace at an even higher rate than elsewhere,” Takahiro Hachigo, Honda President and CEO said, adding that Europe was therefore particularly appropriate for the global premiere of the “next step” in Honda’s ‘Electric Vision’ strategy.

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