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 Peak (Hong Kong) - - Contents -

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.

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