Electric Vehicles

Sleeping BEV Giant Awakes in Frankfurt
Porsche CEO Oliver Blume announcing the launch of the new Taycan at the Frankfurt auto show. The car is just one of many BEVs on the slate at Volkswagen, Porsche’s parent company.

Sleeping BEV Giant Awakes in Frankfurt

By Simon Johns - Dec 03, 2019

The German city of Frankfurt played host to the biannual International Auto Show in September. The major German manufacturers used their home advantage to display a wide range of new models, with battery electric vehicles taking center stage. 

Volkswagen Group pulled out all the stops at the Frankfurt auto show in September when it presented a raft of new electric models, from its first ground-up mass-market BEV to a four-wheel drive SUV and a Tesla-rivaling Porsche.

The star turn of the evening was the highly anticipated Porsche Taycan, which on paper takes aim at the Tesla Model S Performance. The Taycan has 800-volt architecture, instead of 400 V seen in other BEVs, enabling faster charging times and better overall performance befitting the sporting credentials of the marque. 

The Taycan comes with a 93.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack, giving the 680 horsepower Turbo version a range of 450 kilometers. In over-boost mode, the top-of-the-range Turbo S delivers 761 horsepower and can cover 412 kilometers.

The new Porsche Taycan is being touted as the marque’s “halo car” – a head-turning instant classic that every boy-racer wants to get his hands on. But it’s electric. Photo © Harry NL

Next was the mid-sized VW ID.3, which will initially be available with a 58 kWh battery, giving it a projected range of 420 km. The company has high hopes for the car and expects it to follow in the illustrious footsteps of the Beetle and the Golf.

An entry level ID.3 fitted with a 45 kWh battery will follow by the end of 2020, along with the highest-spec model with a 77 kWh battery with a range of 550 km on a single charge. 

VW showcased a near-production version of the upcoming ID Crozz, a BEV crossover SUV and the second model in the all-electric ID family, which sources say will be called the ID.4.

The company also launched the upgraded e-Up, based on the existing Up internal combustion engine model. The e-Up now comes with a 32.2 kWh battery that gives the car a range of 260 km. The outgoing model had an 18.7 kWh battery. Sister models, the Skoda Citigo and the Seat Mii, will use the same drive train.

German conversion specialists eClassics and VW Group’s components division showed off an all-electric original Type 1 Beetle at Frankfurt. It is a near-production model, the companies claim, and uses components of the previous generation Volkswagen e-Up.

This also means that the electric motor now sits in the front as opposed to the rear of the classic car. Its 36.8 kWh battery allows for a range of up to 200 km. eClassics and Volkswagen Group Components are currently working on retooling the Beetle’s EV platform for the iconic Volkswagen Bus and the Porsche 356.

Mercedes-Benz launched the second model of its electric EQ sub-brand, the EQV. A battery powered version of its V-Class people carrier, the EQV comes with a 90 kWh battery and a range of 405 km.

The EQ range currently consists of the EQC and the EQV. An EQA and range-topping EQS are slated for launch in the coming years. Mercedes had a precursor to the latter model on display, the Vision EQS. Its battery pack can reach 80% charge in under 20 minutes and can travel up to 700 km on a full charge.

Super Minis and City Bugs 

Also in Frankfurt, Honda premiered its city car, the Honda-e BEV. It will be available with a 136 hp or 154 hp drive train. Honda will fit the new city bug with a 35.5 kWh battery back, which the manufacturer claims is the most compact in its class. It is also another way of saying it will not get very far on a single charge – 220 km. While it lags competitors from the likes of Peugeot and Opel, it is on par with the new Mini Electric.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on the mic next to the new VW ID.3. The car is the German company’s first BEV designed from scratch. Photo © Malte Ossowski/SVEN SIMON/picture alliance/SvenSimon/Newscom

While launched earlier in the year, the Mini Electric nonetheless made its show debut in Frankfurt. Designed for commutes in metropolitan areas, the Honda-rivaling Mini has a range of 235 km. At 32.6 kWh, its battery pack is relatively small as well, in an effort to save weight.

While the Opel Corsa-e will be similarly priced to the Honda-e and Mini Electric, it is fitted with a 50 kWh battery instead enabling it to go further. Opel claims a driving distance of 330 km on a single charge.

All-electric Precursors 

All eyes at Frankfurt were on the new Land Rover Defender, but during the new model’s presentation CEO Ralf Speth also touched upon the next-generation Jaguar XJ, which will no longer be available with an ICE. While specifications are not available yet, the company’s Modular Longitudinal Architecture that will underpin the new XJ is designed for a 90.2 kWh battery pack that would give the car a range of some 470 km. 

Chinese start-up Byton took to Frankfurt to launch its M-Byte crossover BEV, which is expected to hit streets in China in mid-2020. The company aims to begin deliveries to Europe and North America the following year. It will be available with a 72 kWh or 95 kWh battery pack, giving the M-Byte a range of 360 km and 435 km, respectively.

Chinese startup Byton is looking to break into the European and North American EV markets with its M-Byte crossover BEV. Chinese makers are starting to make bigger inroads into Western markets. Photo © WOLFGANG RATTAY/REUTERS/Newscom

Also from China, FAW’s Hongqi label showcased the E115 concept, which hints at an upcoming electri SUV. Meanwhile, fellow Chinese automaker Wey chose Frankfurt to display the Wey-S and Wey-X crossovers.

Hyundai celebrated the 45-year anniversary of the launch of the Pony Coupe Concept with the 45 EV Concept, a modern interpretation of the 1970s coupe. While there are no immediate plans for production, the model showcases the marque’s design direction for upcoming electric cars.