MOTORING: THE ELECTRIC DRIVE TRAIN
The world's biggest names in luxury automobiles are amping up their electric game, as exciting new models – many aiming to compete with Tesla – are giving discerning drivers plenty of all-electric options.
The world’s biggest names in luxury automobiles are amping up their electric game
The Frankfurt Auto Show in 2017 was notable for a number of releases and showcases, but the main talk was centered on the apparent commitment to all-electric models from some of the biggest names in luxury cars (and more standard cars as well). Spurred on by the cool factor surrounding the Tesla name, the VW diesel emissions scandal, and government pronouncements about disallowing combustion engines in the near future, automakers are releasing their designs and plans for luxury all-electric cars. The Frankfurt show, presided over by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, became the watchword for an all-electric future.
Even the headliner of the show, the fearsome Mercedes AMG Project One, which features Formula One drivetrain technology and an awesome (and street-legal) 1000 horsepower, is actually a hybrid electric-combustion engine. Only 275 will be built, and all have been purchased in advance, despite the US$2.7 million (HK$ 21 million) price tag. And should you run out of gas, the Project One has a 25-mile range on its lithium-ion battery.
But the talk of the show was the commitment by major names to an all-electric future. For some brands, such as Aston Martin, the show was the launch pad for their first ever, all-electric models. BMW, which has already been producing all-electric and hybrid models, has committed itself to having at least 25 models that are partly electric, and at least 12 that are 100 per cent electric powered, by 2025.
Jaguar and Audi have both fielded teams in the Formula E electric auto race, and have stated their desire to use the experience to get all-electric luxury models into production in the next two years.
Even tradition-minded brands, such as RollsRoyce and Bentley, have committed to all-electric models in the near future. Rolls-royce introduced an all-electric version of the Phantom in 2011, but the lack of charging facilities and the relatively early-stage of the technology reportedly put Rolls-royce off the idea. But in an interview earlier this year, Rolls-royce CEO Torsten Müller- Otvös said that all-electric drivetrains were the future: “There is a time – nobody can predict when – when there will be no combustion engines,” Müller- Otvös said in July to Autocar magazine.
Mclaren has already declared its intention to build an all-electric performance car that will beat the P1 in terms of excitement, while Lamborghini, which had seemingly ruled out any possibility of an electrified model, has committed to a hybrid model. Ferrari has already introduced a hybrid model.
The noises made by governments indicate that having all-electric models of every car in a brand’s stable is also a matter of business pragmatism. India, which is destined to be the world’s biggest middleclass consumer market by 2050, is working on a plan to have only electric vehicles sold on the market by 2030, according to a Reuters report.
Meanwhile, China is now the world’s biggest market for electric cars, and Britain and France have both proclaimed their intent to ban combustion engine cars by 2040. Thanks to generous incentives, nearly one-third of all cars sold in Norway in 2016 were electric. Though overall sales of electric cars is less than one per cent of the global market, the pace of sales is quickening. In 2005, there were a few hundred electric cars on the road; in 2015, there was a million and in 2016, two million.
The market is still in combustion but the future is electric. Here are some of the all-electric concepts that are going into production soon.