2016 Paris Motor Show – Its Electrifying!
The first autumn leaves on the trees means only one thing to those of us whose pulse raises at the sound of an engine revving up – the next motor show is coming. Since 1898, when it marked its place in history as the first motor show in the world, ‘Mondial de l’Automobile’ has hosted hundreds of exhibitors, thousands of journalists and millions of visitors in its halls in Paris. The last edition alone welcomed over 1.2 million people eager to see what’s new in the automotive world. This year seems to be no different. Despite vehicle manufacturers like Ford, Mazda and Volvo not presenting their products, the event delivered dozens of premiers focusing on new technology, connectivity and green powertrains.
Batman drives Renault…
There is no better way to showcase new technology or design style than through a concept car. This was the idea behind vehicles such as Citroen CXPERIENCE, a plug-in hybrid that could become the replacement of future C5 family, Hyundai RN30, the first ‘N’ vehicle – a letter that will now be marking performance cars in Hyundai’s range, or Mitsubishi Ground Tourer PHEV, the latest release of Mitsubishi’s new design approach that has bold styling details that reveals what to expect in the next generation Outlander or ASX.
Another interesting offer in the concept space was Volkswagen’s I.D. It is Golf-sized, alternatively fueled and will be autonomously driven out of the showrooms in 2020. The largest attention amongst the visionary concepts was given to one car the Renault Trezor. This Batmobile-like high performance vehicle showcases in what direction Laurens van den Ackar, Senior Vice President; Corporate Design is taking with the appearance of future models. The first installment of this new design era is most likely to start with new Clio.
…and it is electric!
However it is not just the looks that makes Trezor very interesting, it’s the electric drivetrain derived from the Formula E racing car that propels it from 0 to 100 km/h in just under 4 seconds. It is not currently planned as a production model which is different for Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ, a 400 horsepower vehicle that marks Daimler’s strong green step in establishing an alternative-powertrain-dedicated range. According to Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG, we should expect over 10 fully electric vehicles to come to market, which will all be based on an entirely new vehicle architecture. The first one will be an SUV coming to the market in 2019 and was the concept presented to launch the sub brand. Looking into the not-so-distant future, other manufacturers are also working to remove range anxiety of their potential drivers.
Opel launched the new Opel Ampera-e (based on its American sibling – Chevrolet Bolt EV), ‘the electric vehicle for everyone’ as described in the reveal by Opel Group CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann. This car can provide up to 500 km autonomy. Also refreshed is the Renault Zoe, with a nearly doubled battery capacity, it is consequently able to achieve a range of over 400km.
Plenty of choice for fleet drivers…
This motor show also provided a new selection of fleet orientated vehicles, which will be a good fit for many clients and drivers. This year the B-Segment seems to be particularly popular. The Citroen C3 is built on the success of the C4 Cactus and continues the theme of interesting looks and enticing new technology. For example it contains the ConnectedCam, a GPS-enabled built-in camera mounted behind the rear view mirror that is primarily designed to record traffic incidents. It activates in case of an impact and stores video of the preceding 30 seconds and following 60 seconds. It could also be used to simply take a picture and share it on social networks.
The Nissan Micra is another entry in the same segment. The brand’s CEO Carlos Ghon comments that with its bold design it is targeted to “raise expectations” of what a supermini car is capable of. It’s the first all-new Micra since 2003 based on a new platform and it brings interesting new features to the B-segment such as autonomous breaking with pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition and other safety functions. Added to that is a range of multimedia and entertainment features rarely seen in the car this size, making it a convincing package for many drivers.
Completing the list is the new Kia Rio, with its claimed class leading rear seat space and competitive trunk capacity. It is topped up with a 5-start Euro NCAP rating, optional autonomous emergency breaking and advanced entertainment system making it another strong B-segment entry. A step larger Hyundai i30, officially revealed earlier this month, took most of the premium space at Hyundai’s stand. Peter Schreyer Chief Designer at Hyundai-Kia, commented that its design is more conservative and aims to appeal to a wider audience. Wireless cell phone charging, 5 inch touch display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and range of safety features will help increase i30’s popularity among fleet clients and drivers.
Those who prefer to sit a bit higher on the road will be happy to see a range of SUVs making their debut in Paris this year. Audi presented a 90kg lighter Q5, which will be available also as a front-wheel-drive, coming in the fourth quarter of this year. Sister brand Skoda presented Kodiaq, a range topping 7-seater which will come to the market at the beginning of 2017.
Peugeot made a firm step forward by changing the design of the new 3008 to be more SUV orientated, equipping it with Grip Control to take care of snow, mud and sand. It is based on a new platform the EMP2, which not only saves 100kg weight, but also initiates the strategy to release nine new models by 2021. PSA’s 5008 also went through an ‘extreme makeover’ making way from MPV to 7-seat SUV in its new release, while maintaining modularity of a people carrier.
Change is here
With the increasing focus on safety and impact to the environment the automotive industry seem to accelerate even more towards electric vehicles and various forms of autonomous driving. In a few years, according to vehicle manufacturers the cost of producing one horsepower from an electric engine will be the same as from a combustion engine. We can therefore expect vast change in the coming years. There will be of course further development of engines and infrastructure, but also the role and mindset of the driver will have to adapt to the new automotive landscape. Governments will be all important to support this transition to a more green and safe environment in as smooth way as possible. Interesting times for the car industry!