Electric Cars on Front Line at Frankfurt Motor Show

      September 09, 2011 11:02

      BMW will introduce its i3 concept, the first electric car for city slickers that is scheduled to go into mass-production from 2013, at the 64th International Motor Show in Frankfurt next week.

      In fact, the huge auto show is expected to be a veritable battlefield of electric cars among global auto makers. Volkswagen will present its new electric compact, the UP!, and its single-seat Nils, another electric vehicle designed for urban residents. Audi will unveil a small electric car with a unique exterior, the Urban, as well as its A2 electric concept.

      Some 89 models will be presented for the first time at the show, which will feature a total of 1,007 auto -- and parts -- makers. As seen from the slogan of the show, "Future comes as standard," the highlight this year will be environmentally friendly, small electric cars.

      From left, BMW's i3, Audi's Urban, and Volkswagen's Nils

      ◆ Gas Free Vision of Future

      With scores of new models to be unveiled at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz is not missing the opportunity to impress media and buyers by introducing five of the 89 new cars on display.

      Visitors will be able to get a glimpse of the new B Class Benz, with its radically reworked exterior, as well as the high-end F125 electric car, and sports cars such as the SLS AMG, SLK 250 CDI and SLK55 AMG.

      Audi will also unveil its A2 concept car, scheduled to be released in 2015, for the first time.

      Toyota will present new versions of its Avensis, Prius and Lexus 450h, with the new Lexus GS450h transformed into an environmentally friendly hybrid.

      France's Peugeot, which developed the world's first small diesel sedan in 1967, will set a new precedent by unveiling the first diesel hybrid cars, such as the 3008, the Sport's 908, the 508 RXH and the HX1 plug-in.

      Korean auto makers will present models they plan to debut in Europe. Hyundai-Kia will introduce the i30, a medium-sized hatchback, the i40, which was created by the company's European Design Center, and the BlueOn electric car.

      ◆ Stricter Standards

      Making a dent in the market for compacts and electric cars has become a matter of life or death for auto makers as buyers turn to environmentally friendly cars with high fuel efficiency in these financially trying times when green topics are high on the agenda.

      Furthermore, a new U.S. regulation requires all manufacturers that sell cars there to improve their fuel efficiency to 35.5 mpg (15 km/L) by 2016 and 54.5 mpg by 2025. In 2009, the average gas mileage in the U.S. was 27.3 mpg (11.6 km/L).

      Automakers that fail to meet these strict new standards will no longer be able to sell their cars in the U.S., the world's second-largest car market.

      And things are moving in the same direction in Europe. Countries there, many of which already have strict standards on gas emissions, are adopting new tax regulations. These encourage car owners to opt for cars with lower CO2 emissions and use their cars less often.

      The market is also pushing manufacturers to concentrate on developing small cars. With the world still reeling from the global financial crisis -- the U.S. economy is struggling to recover and many European countries are facing a credit crunch -- consumers are tightening their purse-strings, and sales of medium and larges cars are faltering.

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