Once a regular on the show floors of the massive Frankfurt Motor Show, Bijoy wonders about the mixed messaging coming out of this year's edition
NOT SO LONG AGO, THE FRANKFURT MOTOR Show was the biggest and the most significant one of its kind in the world. Sure enough the German big three used to dominate the proceedings but other car makers from Europe, Asia, as well as from across the pond ensured that their presence was felt at Frankfurt. As a journalist I used to be a regular at Frankfurt and would happily get lost in Messe Frankfurt, attending launches and ogling at cars that came in all shapes and colours. Champagne at the Cadillac pavilion and a spot of Scandinavian lunch at Saab was the norm for re-fuelling those days. Well Saab is long dead and the makers of Cadillac can’t afford to splurge on Champagne. Still Frankfurt was a big affair though some important names like Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Volvo and PeugeotCitroen group chose not to attend.
Though I did not attend the show, I was keen on following events from Frankfurt since I was curious about the direction car companies are taking with all the talk on autonomous and electric vehicles. Is the industry ready to take on the electrification challenge? Can car makers who sold their wares on the basis of driving experience even think of driverless cars? The answer in a nut shell is simple – total confusion. If you look at reports pouring in from Frankfurt, it is evident that the car makers from around the world are a confused lot. Some showcased supercars, some still had enormous SUVs with monstrous V8s that will mow down acres of rainforest by just sitting on idle. Some chose to lie blatantly by saying that they are ready to go allelectric by the mid-20s. A closer look is warranted, right?
The highlight from Mercedes-Benz’s 100 strong display was a 1000bhp insanity that has an engine borrowed from Hamilton’s Sunday drive. Three motors are used to power wheels and a turbocharger to propel the Project One to 350kmph. On the other hand Mercedes hinted at the future of its Smart brand with the EQ fourtwo concept that can be ‘summoned’ and is electric powered. This steering-less car is how Stuttgart envisions to counter disruption from the Ubers of tomorrow. I will take it with a pinch of salt since by 2030 a lot more will change and it will take more than an iPad grille to serve an all-new market.
BMW was equally bipolar when it comes to its concepts. While the X7 is as badass as it can get when it comes to SUVs, the iVision Dynamics concept follows the direction that the i8 took. It will be ironic if the makers of the ultimate driving machines will have to venture into driverless cars, eventually.
Volkswagen wants to get out of the diesel-stigma and announced that they are working on a host of electric cars – 23 allelectric vehicles by 2025 to be precise. The concept ID Crozz is supposed to lead the charge with 300 plus bhp and a 500km range. Hmmm… I say.
Ferrari and Lamborghini looked bent on playing the last hurrah of internal combustion exuberance with a California replacement and a topless Huracan was unveiled. Honestly I don’t want to think of purely electric-powered Italian supercars. That will be sad.
That brings me to my favourite car of the show. The Urban EV concept from Honda is inspired by the original Civic and promises to deliver more than anything else in the show. And more than anything else, this car will be on the road by 2019. Call me a traditionalist or a realist, this looks like the kind of car we will be buying or hiring soon. ⌧
‘Urban EV concept is inspired by the
original Civic and promises to deliver more than anything else in