“Future Now”: Frankfurt Motor Show 2017
Electric, autonomous and digital accurately describes the 67th “Future now” IAA Cars in Frankfurt. More than 750,000 people from around the world will visit the trade show between now and 24th September 2017 to see the 363 new innovations.
Despite several major manufacturers selecting not to exhibit at the fair (Alfa Romeo, DS, Fiat, Infiniti Jeep, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Tesla, Volvo), IAA offers 228 world premieres – a new record and 64 European premieres, which is more than double the number in 2015. Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) stated “this IAA offers a glittering display of innovations like no other trade fair”. New brands also presented including Chery and Wey.
There was an influx of technological influence. The New Mobility World hall emphasised the clear link between automotive, technology and connectivity with everything from students and start-ups to household names such as Facebook, IBM and Sony. Products and services offered covered a range of mobility, autonomous and connected car propositions giving us a view on how the industry will evolve in the coming years. Technology also had a strong place with huge focus on future infotainment and even the use of Microsoft HoloLens to use augmented virtual reality technology for the selection of additional car options and improved vehicle maintenance as shown by Mercedes-Benz.
Electric and more
In the lead up to Frankfurt the topic of the future of the combustion engine, particularly diesel, has continued to heat up. With this in mind and considering the overall targeting of the automotive manufacturers to produce cleaner products, it is not a surprise that there were many eV and alternative power train products presented.
Presentation of existing products included the BMW i3 facelift and the i8 extended its range with a roadster version. In terms of completely new products, Jaguar showed the i-Pace.
From a concept point of view, a range of products in different segments were offered. In the city car space Honda showed the Urban EV Concept, with a unique retro design and Mini presented the Electric Concept (pictured above). Mercedes-Benz offered the EQA hatchback concept and VW’s SUV/hatchback, the I.D. Crozz, was shown again. Plans for this VW model are in place for release in 2020 as part of the VW RoadMap E, the groups electric car strategy to bring to market one in four cars as eV by 2030. Finalising the cross-over space, the Citroen E-Méhari styled by Courreges was also released.
Two concepts also promoted hydrogen products. The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell is noted as the world’s first Hydrogen plug-in. Whilst no date has yet been confirmed, this is expected to go into production. Toyota offered the C-HR Hy-Power concept.
The autonomous future
Combining electric and autonomous Audi launched the AI (Audi Intelligence) concept cars. Mercedes-Benz launched the Vision EQ ForTwo concept, demonstrating the future family life that can be achieved in a Smart, connected world. Renault presented their idea regarding autonomous, connected and electric with the Symbioz concept car.
Audi also offered short-term autonomous functionality in the form of the A8 which contains level 3 autonomous driving features. Level 3 is known as conditional automation where the automated driving system is responsible for all aspects of dynamic driving but that the driver is expected to intervene when requested.
B, C and D segments keep the pace
In the more traditional segments there was still some activity. In smaller segments Honda released a facelift for the Jazz and even more significantly VW launched the new Polo. From a C-segment perspective VW showed the facelifted Golf SV, Hyundai showed the i30 Fastback, Honda released the Civic diesel and Lexus, the CT hatchback. In the concept space Kia gave insight into its future range with the launch of the ProCeed. A launch in the D-segment came from Opel with the Insignia GSi.
Last but very much not least, I am pleased to say that the hot hatch still lives and breaths with a number of offerings: Renault RS, Seat Leon Cupra R, Toyota Yaris GRMN and Hyundai i30 N.
SUVs go from strength to strength
The cross-over SUV segment saw the greatest number of launches as it continues to grow in strength in both private and fleet sales. Mid-life product refreshes are important to ensure maximum OEM sales. The crossover SUV facelifts presented were Ford EcoSport, Kia Sorento, Lexus NX crossover and Toyota Land Cruiser.
In terms of fully new products of existing models, BMW brought to market the new X3, Dacia the Duster, Jaguar the new i-Pace and Porsche the new Cayenne. When it comes to completely new models in this segment VW presented the T-Roc which is positioned below Tiguan, Skoda replaced the Yeti with the Karoq, Citroen extend the C3 line-up with the Aircross, Hyundai offers the Kona, Kia the Stonic, Seat offered the Arona and Opel the Grandland X.
From a concept point of view BMW showed the bigger version of the X5, the X7. Seat did not yet present their large SUV but did announce the finalists of their social media-driven campaign to find a name for the new product.
High performance & luxury not forgotten
For many fair goers, the high performance launches are still the motivator. Leading the way was the Mercedes-Benz AMG project One hybrid hypercar, launched with the help of Brand Ambassador Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari launched the Portofino, the replacement for the California and for a more down to earth view of high performance BMW showed the new M5 and racing version of M8, the GTE version, Ford offered the Mustang facelift and Mercedes rounded this off with the facelifts for S-class range and the Maybach 6 Cabriolet (above).
Still life in motor shows yet
Whilst the business case for OEMs spending marketing budget on exhibiting at motors shows versus other channels will continue to be heavily scrutinised, it is clear from the number of attendees and the massive number of press articles that have followed the Frankfurt press days that for now the trade fair still has a place at the heart of the industry.
From a consumer perspective, it is great to see that there is choice to suit individual needs not only in terms of segment and sub-segment of product but also in future variety of powertrain options and technological integration. The automotive industry has successfully flexed its innovative muscles to remain a solid player in the connected world.
As always it was a pleasure to be at the show to report back the latest trends to you our clients and drivers.