Electric vehicles look set to hog the spotlight at this autumn’s Paris motor show as makers put increasing faith in a technology that is still struggling in the showrooms.
The biannual show, starting at the end of September, will play host to a number of EV launches that we expect to be backed up by solid commitments from makers.
Earlier this week, VW teased images of its first all-electric Golf-sized concept that will point to a new car on a new electric platform due in 2019. The German maker claims the new model will manage between 250-300 miles on a single charge, with full charge only taking 15 minutes. VW, not long ago an EV skeptic, has already said it wants to launch 30 electrified models by 2025.
Mercedes is another using Paris to show off its vision of what a future electric car should look like. We’re promised a range of 310 miles from a car that that’ll become the bullseye at the center of Mercedes’ target of selling 100,000 electric cars a year by 2020.
Daimler-owned Smart will be revealing production EV versions of its new ForTwo and, for the first time, ForFour, but they’ll likely be outshone by Opel’s Ampera-e. This European version of the electric-only Chevrolet Bolt has a promised range of 249 miles in Europe and is expected to undercut the new, longer-range BMW i3 on price.
Right now, makers selling EVs in Europe are feeling the pain. Only 43,654 found homes in the first six months of this year, and half of those were the Nissan LEAF and Renault Zoe. Many saw sales fall – the VW e-Up and e-Golf are examples.
But makers are emboldened by new leaps in battery technology that promise to increase range and reduce the cost in the next 2-3 years. It’s also hard to ignore the pent-up demand for the right EV, as proved by the incredible 400,000 pre-orders achieved by Tesla for the affordable Model E, scheduled for launch next year.
EV costs are being cut to the point that analyst Exane BNP Paribas believes the gross margin in electric vehicles will match those of internal combustion engine vehicles as early as 2020.
Meanwhile, technology is advancing on many fronts. Areas such as our own simulation of aerodynamics, aeroacoustics, batteries, and climate control offer new tools for the development of EVs. Adopting these advances can increase electric range, reduce vehicle development costs, and speed up time to market while providing quieter and more comfortable vehicles. In an era when emissions are a headache for both the PR and R&D departments, customer friendly EVs are the perfect remedy.