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

the show’

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