At this year’s International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, there were two big trends in concept cars: Electricity and automation (sometimes both).
When it comes to autonomy, most of the vehicles debuted were Level 4, meaning the car is fully autonomous and can perform all basic driving and monitoring functions for the duration of a trip, but would need a driver to take over in more extreme driving scenarios. There were a couple of Level 5 vehicles too, meaning there is no way for a driver to take over and the car is fully in control.
As for the other big trend, electric vehicles, almost every car company present had either a hybrid or entirely electric vehicle (EV) present. And it’s not just family-style vehicles, either. Click through to check out the supercars that are getting the EV treatment..
Visitors look at an Audi Elaine autonomous concept car at the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show on Sept. 12 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Audi ElAIne After teasing its autonomous vehicle back in July, Audi unveiled its self-driving concept cars this week, one of which is the Audi ElAIne (AI — get it?). According to Audi, this electric-powered SUV would be capable of running errands for you while you’re not in it; you’d park in a “handover zone” and leave the car, then it would drive to a parking garage that offers a car wash, a gas station, a charging post and a package station (presumably for picking up deliveries), all without you being present. Anticipated launch year: 2019. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Mercedes AMG Project One With car manufacturers leaning towards producing family functional vehicles rather than race cars, supercar enthusiasts will be thrilled to see Mercedes is still innovating with its Mercedes AMG Project One. The $2.8 million (USD) hypercar, inspired by Formula 1 vehicles, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in about 2.6 seconds. While it is neither autonomous nor an entirely electric vehicle, it does have a remarkably svelt 1.6-litre V6 engine to work alongside its electric motors. Anticipated launch year: 2019. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images) Audi AIcon Audi’s other concept car, the AIcon (still clever, right?), is a four-door vehicle that has no steering wheel or pedals. The purely electric car would be able to drive more than 800 kilometres on a single charge, all without the driver having to lift a finger. Anticipated launch year: 2019. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images) Aspark Owl This Japanese-made vehicle doesn’t look like your typical electric car, with gull-wing doors and a low centre of gravity (sitting just 990mm off the ground). Oh, and it accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in two seconds. Did I mention that this is Aspark’s first car? Anticipated launch year: Unknown. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images) Borgward Isabella The original Borgward Isabella was built nearly 60 years ago, and is making a 21st century return thanks to an injection of money into the brand from China. The coupe has sliding doors, bold interior colours, and a touchscreen centre console. Anticipated launch year: Unknown. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images) Smart Vision EQ Fortwo What’s better than a tiny car for the city? One that can navigate the troublesome downtown traffic by itself. There’s no pedals and no steering wheel, making this vehicle Level 5 autonomous. The car is controllable via smartphone, making it an ideal choice for ride sharing, something the Smart vehicles have been using frequently for the last several years. Anticipated launch year: Unknown. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Mercedes-Benz Concept EQA Unlike the Project One hypercar, this Mercedes-Benz concept car is fully electric, with some nifty extras, like the interactive grill that will change graphics depending on the drive mode you’re in (Sports Mode gets flames, for example). It’s just one of 10 vehicles Mercedes has in development. This one has an estimated range of 402 kilometres on one charge. Anticipated launch year: By 2022. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Wey XEV Not typically recognized as a vehicular powerhouse, China made a strong showing at this year’s IAA with the XEV from Wey, a subsidy of Great Wall. The mid-sized SUV has a distinct look from many of its European counterparts. This hybrid can seat four, and autonomous driving features for it are currently in the works. Anticipated launch year: Unknown. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Renault Symbioz This autonomous, all-electric vehicle has a sleek modern exterior, and an interior that would make living in your car seem downright luxurious. The Renault approach to electric vehicles is that it could work symbiotically with your home, powering items in the home during peak-use times or a blackout. Anticipated launch year: Unknown. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) Mini Electric Concept Fans of the iconic Mini Cooper can go green with the new, fully-electric version. It’s the second electrified car from the automaker, and has some truly distinct Mini-feel, right down to the Union Jack-styled tail-lights. Anticipated launch year: 2019 (Green Car Reports) Honda Urban EV With the Clarity EV already on sale in the U.S. and Japan, the Urban EV is Honda’s city-chic offering. It’s a throwback to the Honda Civic of the 1970s, with some serious updates, like rear-hinge doors, and a dashboard almost entirely absent of controls; there’s a steering wheel and pedals, but you need to talk to the car for everything else. Honda says the car’s system “learns from the driver by detecting emotions behind their judgments.” Anticipated launch year: 2019 (Digital Trends) Jaguar I-PACE For those in the market who want a Jag and also want to do their part for the environment, Jaguar is working on the fully-electric I-PACE. Capable of going 0 to 60 mph in about 4 seconds, this car is capable of going 354 kilometres on a single charge and can charge to 80 per cent in only 90 minutes. Anticipated launch year: 2018. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images) Volkswagen ID Crozz VW is developing a line of electric vehicles, the ID lineup, and that includes this crossover vehicle. The company has shown the vehicle before, but this one is much closer to what the production model will actually look like. There are some neat features, including rear doors that slide backwards, a panoramic roof shade that can be adjusted via gesture control, and an “infotainment” screen in the centre console. Anticipated launch year: 2020. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) BMW X7 iPerformance This vehicle will be the largest automobile that BMW makes, and comes as a traditional gas-powered vehicle or a hybrid model. It will include two large interior screens, gesture controls for the interior features, such as climate, and a full-length glass sunroof. Anticipated launch year: 2018. (The Car Connection)