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Electric and hybrid cars set to dominate Frankfurt motor show

New hybrid and electric cars from Mercedes, BMW and Aston Martin will be unveiled at this week’s event

At the 2011 IAA Toyota showcased its hybrid. (Pic: Luca Mascaro)

By Nilima Choudhury

BMW, Aston Martin, Volvo, Toyota and Mercedes will reveal their visions of the future of electric and hybrid motoring at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

In total, 150 new products are expected to be launched during the 10 day event, which offers analysts a good idea of how Europe’s car industry feels and where the market is going.

Of that, a significant number of hybrid and electric models will be presented to the public, with Japan’s Toyota devoting its entire line-up to its new range of hybrid engine cars.

BMW’s i8 electric sports car, Mercedes’ S 500 plug-in, Audi’s hybrid Sport Quattro and VW’s electric Golf are other notable highlights.

The 16 new electric drive models built in Germany this year are a sign of a new era in carmaking, according to the head of Germany’s influential car manufacturing association the VDA.

“Electric mobility is no longer a vision; e-cars are now appearing on the roads,” Matthias Wissmann said in a statement released last week.

“At present this is still a small market, yet we observe high growth rates. In fact sales of electrically powered vehicles have doubled every year since 2007.

“The target of one million electric cars, which Germany has set itself for the year 2020, can be reached given the right general conditions.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel, busy campaigning ahead of next week’s national election, will visit Frankfurt this week. She has already announced plans in 2011 for one million electric vehicles in Germany by 2020.

EU fuel standards

The show comes at a critical juncture in discussions within the EU over future car fuel efficiency standards.

Proposed regulations could see new European cars required to emit no more on average than 95grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre by 2020, an improvement on the current target of 120gCO2/km by 2015.

In his statement Wissman also called on the EU to support innovation, rather than “hampering technological developments with rigid regulations and unnecessary bureaucracy”.

But a new report from the Brussels-based Transport and Environment NGO suggests EU car manufacturers are well on track to meeting CO2 standards enforced in 2012

“Analysis of the progress of carmakers towards their 2015 targets shows that most are heading for very significant over – compliance as forecast in previous reports,” the report says. “T&E has consistently argued this target was lax and this is now, regrettably, being demonstrated”.

New policies should have been agreed in June, but Angela Merkel delayed a decision under pressure from the German car lobby. The EU is set to debate new standards again at the end of September.

Hybrids & EV cars on show in Frankfurt:

Volkswagen: With nearly zero noise, the e-up! is powered by an electric motor which accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h within 14 seconds and reaches a top speed of 135 km/h.

The Volkswagen e-up! (Pic: Volkswagen)

Volvo: The Swedish manufacturer’s V60 is claimed to be the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid which will feature at the event. When in pure electric mode, the car has a range of up to 50 kilometres.

The rear axle is powered by an electric motor producing 68 hp. The electric motor is supplied with power from an 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed under the floor of the load compartment.

Mercedes: At Frankfurt, the company will unveil its third hybrid model of the new S-Class which emits 69 g/km of CO2. The 80kW electric drive with externally rechargeable battery makes emission-free driving for about 18 miles possible. The market launch will be next year.

Inside the Mercedes S-class. (Pic: Mercedes)

Aston Martin: Aston Martin’s hydrogen-fuelled Rapide S will be present at the show. The car features a special bi-fuel hydrogen/petrol twin turbo 6.0-litre V12 engine developed in conjunction with Austrian hydrogen internal combustion engine specialists Alset GmbH.

BMW: Following on from the successful launch of the i3, BMW will reveal its i8 sporty range, which costs a whopping $135,925. The BMW i8 is the company’s first-ever plug-in hybrid.

BMW’s i3 electric car. (Pic: BMW)

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