Automakers, faced with CO2 fines and diesel slump accelerate electrification
Luxury and mainstream automakers are accelerating plans to electrify their cars, both with battery-powered and partially electric hybrid cars and SUVs. Their efforts will come under the spotlight at this week’s Geneva auto show.
While Jaguar’s I-Pace, regarded as the first credible rival to Tesla, will garner much attention, analysts Evercorre ISI remark that Hyundai’s Kona EV is the most important electric vehicle from a traditional automaker because it looks like a genuine alternative to the Tesla Model 3.
Besides full electric cars, automakers are stepping up the introduction of hybrid vehicles which use electric power to help drive the internal combustion engine and power the increasing array of advanced technologies in vehicles. The threat of heavy fines from the EU regulators for missing CO2 reduction targets and a switch away from diesel cars by customers worried about diesel bans in smog-hit cities are two factors boosting hybrid sales.
Other launches in Geneva include two compact cars – the Toyota Auris and Kia Ceed, representing the Asian brands latest efforts to break the dominance of this important volume market by European rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf.
Aston Martin will make a major announcement about future products in Geneva where it will have its biggest-ever display stand, taking over the space formerly occupied by Opel, which skips the show this year. Besides some surprise new products, the sports-car maker will give its new Vantage coupe a show debut. It will be joined by Aston Martin Racing’s new Vantage GTE race car developed to contest the World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Aston Martin’s Red Bull Racing F1 show car will also be displayed.
BMW showcases its upcoming 8 series range-topping lineup, along with the latest-generation X4 coupe-styled SUV, but saves the debut of the Z4 roadster, which was jointly developed with Toyota, for a premier in the summer.
BMW is reviving the 8 series name for a range-topping line as it focuses on profit-boosting, high-margin luxury cars. The automaker will preview a four-door high-performance M-badged version in concept form. A coupe, convertible and the four-door, to be badged Gran Coupe, will make up the lineup.
The second-generation X4 that debuts in Geneva moves to BMW’s CLAR platform and becomes lighter, more efficient and roomier with sportier riding dynamics.
Citroen will unveil its third-generation Berlingo compact van. The passenger version will be available in two lengths for the first time and with five or seven seats. The Berlingo incorporates the brand’s latest styling cues, including padded “air bumps” on the doors and a tiered lighting arrangement in front. Sister brand Peugeot will premier its version at the show.
Mercedes says it will show its first series-production model with battery-electric drive but offered no further details except to say it will provide a look to the future portfolio of its EQ subbrand. The model could preview a Tesla Model X rival based on the Generation EQ concept that Mercedes unveiled at the 2016 Paris show.
Mercedes also will debut the production AMG GT Coupe after the concept’s unveiling last year. Despite the word coupe in its name, it has four doors and is expected to get AMG’s 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 engine with 604 hp. A hybrid variant with 805 hp is also planned, reports said.
The AMG variant of its latest G class gets a Geneva unveiling. The Mercedes-AMG G63 is powered by a 577-hp, 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission.
A big debut for Mercedes is the latest A-class compact hatchback. Mercedes touts the car as a “smartphone on wheels” because it will offer what the automaker says is the most advanced human-machine interface it has developed to date.
Peugeot has given its range-topping sedan, the 508, a “fastback” design and made it more upscale to help the car compete better in Europe’s midsize segment where volume automakers are losing sales to premium rivals. The 508 gets an elegant interior with high-end features such as a full grain leather trimmed steering wheel, a 10-inch touchscreen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel. Its safety equipment includes a night vision system that uses an infrared camera to detect pedestrians in the dark and in reduced visibility. It will be available with six gasoline and diesel engines with 130 hp to 225 hp. A plug-in hybrid is expected to launch next year.
The Rifter replaces the Partner in Peugeot’s compact van lineup. Like its sister models, the Citroen Berlingo and Opel Combo vans, it will be offered in five- and seven-seat passenger versions.
Renault will unveil its vision of shared urban mobility with the EZ-GO concept. The company released a teaser video ahead of its show unveiling hinted that it’s likely to highlight ideas for a fully autonomous car with no steering wheel and a cabin where occupants face each other.
VW’s I.D. Vizzion concept previews a possible flagship electric car that would compete directly with the Tesla Model S. The sedan has no steering wheel or visible controls and also hints at what a fully autonomous VW car could look like. Its fastback design will be used to test customer acceptance for a long electric vehicle in key sedan markets such as the U.S. and China, VW said. The concept previews a possible flagship sedan that would be a battery-powered successor to the slow-selling Phaeton.
The redesigned V60 continues the electrification of Volvo’s lineup. with a choice of two plug-in hybrid powertrains. The premium midsize wagon will offer in Europe the automaker’s new T6 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid that generates a combined 336 hp from its gasoline engine and electric motor. The second option is the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid that delivers 386 hp. U.S. customers will be offered only the T8 plug-in hybrid.
Source: Automotive News Europe