Paris Motor Show: It's electric
26 September 2016 - Automotive News
Germany's automakers will use the Paris auto show to highlight their latest battery technologies as they seek to recapture ground from Tesla Motors.
Mercedes-Benz will unveil the first electric vehicle from its new range of Tesla-fighting models. Volkswagen brand will debut a near-production, all-electric car that it hopes will shift the focus from its diesel emissions-cheating scandal to VW Group's massive investments into electrified drivetrains.
Meanwhile, BMW, whose i subbrand for battery-powered and plug-in hybrid cars has failed to take off, is keeping most of its top executives from Paris while it has a deep rethink on how to build expensive EVs while maintaining its high profitability.
Some automakers including Ford Motor, Volvo Cars, Aston Martin, McLaren, Mazda and Rolls-Royce will skip Paris to concentrate their marketing efforts on social media campaigns and customer-focused events.
The show's press days are Thursday, Sept. 29, and Friday, Sept. 30. Here are some of the key debuts.
- Audi Q5
- Audi A5 coupe, A5 Sportback
- BMW i8 Spyder, i8 coupe
- Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta
- Ferrari GTC4Lusso variant
- Honda Civic hatchback, Civic Type R
- Hyundai i30
- Infiniti QX50
- Kia Rio
- Land Rover Discovery
- Mercedes-Benz E-class All Terrain
- Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster/GT C
- Nissan Micra
- Opel Ampera-e
- Porsche Panamera, Panamera
- Smart ForTwo EV
- Smart ForFour EV
- BMW X2
- Lexus UX
- Mercedes-Benz electric crossover
- Mitsubishi GT-PHEV Concept
- Volkswagen EV
The brand will unveil the new Q5, Audi's top-selling nameplate in the U.S. The crossover will be built at the automaker's new factory in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico. The second-generation Q5 will be bigger than the current model to distance it from the Q3, but it also will be up to 20 percent lighter thanks to its new Volkswagen Group MLB platform. The latest A5 coupe and A5 Sportback five-door model also will debut. The cars keep the elegant design of the current models but use the new MLB platform. The A5 Sportback will be sold in the U.S. for the first time. Both arrive in U.S. dealerships in the first quarter, an Audi spokesman said.
The BMW X2 will give the brand another front-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive model. The small crossover, which will appear in Paris as a concept, is planned as a sporty alternative to the more practical X1. The X2 will sit on BMW's UKL front-wheel-drive platform, also used by the X1 and the Europe-only 2-series Gran Tourer and Active Tourer minivanlike models, as well as by BMW's latest Mini models. BMW also is expected to debut a production i8 Spyder plug-in hybrid. It will have a longer-range battery and a more powerful electric motor that it will share with a revised i8 coupe that also will be unveiled.
Ferrari's open-top version of the $1.1 million, limited-edition LaFerrari hybrid is called the LaFerrari Aperta (Italian for "open"). The convertible has the same performance figures as the LaFerrari coupe, unleashing 949 hp from its 789-hp V-12 engine and a 120-kW electric motor. Its chassis has been modified to maintain the coupe's torsional rigidity and beam stiffness. The company will disclose the convertible's price and production run in Paris, but it has said that the entire production has been sold. Ferrari also will debut a GTC4Lusso variant with a twin-turbocharged V-8 engine that will be sold alongside the naturally aspirated V-12 model as the brand expands turbocharging through its range to meet regulatory pressure to improve fuel economy.
Honda will unveil the latest-generation Civic hatchback, which goes on sale in the U.S. this month. Both the U.S. and European versions will be built at Honda's factory in England, where Honda is investing heavily to make the plant the hatchback's global production hub. The 10th-generation Civic hatchback is longer, wider and lower than the current car, with more interior space. In the U.S., it joins the Civic sedan and coupe in Honda's lineup. Reports suggest the high-performance Civic Type R also will debut in Paris.
Hyundai shows its latest i30 compact hatchback, a key model for the brand in Europe. The i30 is a sibling to the Elantra sedan. The automaker says it has improved the i30's ride and handling characteristics through a newly developed chassis and more use of rigid high-strength steel. It also has a new front-end design with a more curved grille than on Hyundai's current models.
Infiniti will debut its QX50. Its redesign is based on the QX Sport Inspiration concept unveiled at the Beijing show in April. The concept signaled a more muscular look for the brand's future crossovers, with flowing sculptural lines and short front and rear overhangs. Infiniti also will disclose technical details of its new turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder VC-T engine, which it says is the world's first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. The engine's technology enables it to choose an optimal compression ratio for combustion. This means the engine matches the fuel efficiency of diesels, Infiniti says.
Kia says the design of its new Rio gives the subcompact car a "more mature character" than the current model. The fourth-generation car's ride and handling have been improved. It is slightly longer than the current model and gets a new cabin with a more ergonomic layout, more passenger room and more cargo space. U.S. versions will be built in Kia's new plant outside Monterrey, Mexico.
Land Rover gives its LR4 a new name, a sleeker design and more room inside. The seven-seat SUV will adopt the Discovery name that Land Rover already uses for the model outside the U.S. Land Rover is revamping its SUVs to make them more mainstream, so the Discovery gets a softer, more fluid look than the current boxy model. It also will have a more upscale cabin.
The UX concept previews a potential small crossover aimed at young urban buyers, although its striking muscular looks likely would be toned down for a production version. The coupe-styled, four-door concept takes Lexus' bold design language "to the next level," the brand said in a new release. The UX's design is meant to appeal to a "progressive, urban audience living in a connected environment," Lexus said.
Mercedes-Benz said it will show a concept that "embodies its vision for a new range of purpose-built electric cars." The brand did not reveal any more details ahead of the concept's debut, but it's expected to be an all-electric crossover based on the GLC with a range of 320 miles on one charge.
Mercedes plans six new models with electric powertrains between 2018 and 2024. They won't form a separate subbrand like BMW's i marque, as some media reports have said, but will be a clearly recognizable product family delineated by a striking design and nomenclature, sources told Automobilwoche, a sibling publication of Automotive News.
Mercedes also will debut a third variant for its E-class family, the E-class All Terrain, that will go up against the Audi A6 allroad quattro, Subaru Outback and Volvo's new V90 Cross Country. Based on the E-class wagon, it has a taller ride height and robust, off-road-based design features.
Mercedes-AMG also will unveil two soft-top versions of its GT supercar.
The Mitsubishi GT-PHEV Concept showcases the automaker's latest hybrid powertrain and connectivity technologies. The concept has a plug-in powertrain with a gasoline engine and three electric motors, one at the front and two at the rear, helping to give it an impressive 75-mile driving range under electric power.
Nissan is weighing whether to sell its Micra in the U.S. after launching the subcompact hatchback in Canada in 2014. The latest-generation Micra will be bigger than the current model and gets a higher-quality interior to make it a better competitor to models such as the Ford Fiesta. It will look sportier, with a design influenced by the Sway concept unveiled at the 2015 Geneva show. Adding the Micra to Nissan's U.S. lineup may depend on how much Nissan thinks it will cannibalize its Versa sedan. Nissan will build European versions of the Micra at alliance partner Renault's plant in Flins, France, instead of in Chennai, India. Mexico would be a likely production location for a U.S. version.
General Motors' European brand showcases the Ampera-e, a Europeanized version of the battery-powered Chevrolet Bolt. The difference between the two cars is mostly cosmetic, with the Ampera-e adding an Opel grille and slightly different bumpers for European Union crash regulations. Opel is touting the EV's long range, which it says will eliminate range anxiety for customers. Under the New European Driving Cycle, the Ampera-e can travel for 250 miles on a single charge without recharging, Opel said. Chevrolet says the Bolt's range is 238 miles as certified by the U.S. EPA. The range difference is due to different testing standards, as the cars have identical propulsion systems.
Porsche's second-generation Panamera uses parent Volkswagen Group's lighter-weight, more fuel-efficient MSB platform. The brand's only four-door sedan gets sleeker, coupelike styling elements to link the model with Porsche's iconic 911 sports car, along with new twin-turbocharged engines that are up to 16 percent more fuel-efficient than the engines in the current model. Porsche plans a "shooting brake" wagon derivative that is expected to be sold in the U.S. along with a long-wheelbase version for China. The car's second-generation plug-in hybrid version also will debut. It is more powerful than the current Panamera plug-in and has a longer electric-only driving range.
Smart will show the latest EV version of its ForTwo two-seat microcar. The brand's four-seat ForFour model, which isn't sold in the U.S., also gets a battery-powered version. Smart will detail how it has improved its electric drivetrain at the show.
Volkswagen will debut its first purpose-built EV. The near-production concept will preview an EV that VW says will be similar in size to its Golf compact hatchback with a range on a single charge of 250 to 300 miles. Its interior space rivals that of the Passat midsize model thanks to its new MEB (modular electrification kit) platform. It has been developed specifically for electric cars and packages the battery pack beneath the car's floor. The EV will have a distinctive design to differentiate it from VW's nonelectric cars. VW brand is expected to launch the car in early 2018 or 2019. It will be followed by other EVs, including a minivan based on the BUDD-e concept unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January and a successor to the Phaeton sedan.