The bi-annual Frankfurt Auto Show is an occasion of great pride and rivalry for the powerful German auto industry.
Since the last Frankfurt show in 2017, German automotive brands have been under tremendous pressure.
A series of adverse findings concerning diesel emissions transparency have resulted in heavy financial penalties.
At board level, BMW has a new CEO and the 'Godfather' of the German car industry, Ferdinand Piëch, passed away a few weeks before the 2019 Frankfurt show opened its doors.
READ: OPINION | Why the new SA-bound Defender makes sense
Never underestimate the Germans
The German industry has been leading global design trends for decades. It sets the engineering standards that others aspire to. But of late, the German industry has been forced to recognise the value of disruption wrought by Tesla.
In response, the major German brands have finally revealed a comprehensive offering of future battery vehicle products. There was never any doubt that German engineers and battery chemists would be capable of producing quality electric vehicles. The question was when their managers were going to allow them.
At the 2019 Frankfurt show, there were some very impressive new electric vehicles. The most attainable amongst these and one which has been confirmed for South African distribution is VW’s ID3.
Between a Polo and Golf in size, the ID3 could likely become VW’s volume hatchback of the future. It makes more power than a Polo GTI, generating 150kW from its lithium-ion battery pack, and range potential is good, with up 500km of driving endurance.
A more sustainable S-Class
Mercedes-Benz showed an electrified version of what its stately S-Class limousine could become: the EQS concept car. With Jaguar announcing that the next-generation XJ will be solely battery-powered, Mercedes-Benz’s product planners are reading their future customers as energy-type agnostic.
The EQS is powered by dual-electric motors which total 350kW and Mercedes claims a 700km range. It also uses an array of sustainable materials in its cabin, including artificial leather and recycled plastics. What EQS demonstrates, as a future S-Class, is that luxury will be reinterpreted as sustainability, instead of simply harvesting and presenting the scarcest and most expensive of materials.
BMW’s presence relating to new electric concepts was represented by a hydrogen-powered X5, with the brand still investing in this alternative energy technology for the future.
Porsche proves what can be done
The star of Frankfurt 2019 was undoubtedly Porsche’s Taycan. It is a vehicle which faced enormous expectations. Porsche has an enviable reputation for engineering and only the best would do for its first battery-powered sportscar.
For those who anticipated a true Tesla rival with regards to its performance, Porsche delivered. Even the less potent version of Taycan is good for 500kW, whilst the Turbo S variant becomes Porsche’s most powerful four-door passenger car yet, at 560kW.
The overall theme at Germany’s 2019 Frankfurt auto show is that the most important players in the global vehicle industry (which are almost exclusively German), have realised that sustainable energy and materials are their future. But not at the cost of performance. Which should be heartening to most automotive enthusiasts.
Image: The NewsMarket