The story appears on

Page A11

September 11, 2019

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Business » Auto

Auto giants up ante in electric sector

Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are showcasing curvaceous, high-end electric sports cars at the Frankfurt auto show as part of an industry effort to counter Tesla, avert billions in European pollution fines and defuse complaints from climate activists.

Germany’s premium automakers are now marketing electric cars as their flagship models, a strategy which Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW hope will lure customers away from gas-guzzling SUVs that could soon land them with hefty fines under new EU emissions rules.

“We have moved on from treating the electric car mainly as an engineering challenge. Now electric cars are getting sexy,” Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler said.

The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS, a four-door electric concept car, boasts fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles, a message which the company hopes will resonate with critics as well as car enthusiasts. The global auto industry has struggled to placate activists and regulators in the wake of Volkswagen’s 2015 diesel emissions cheating scandal, while customers continue to buy ever larger, polluting vehicles.

Now a generation of new chief executives including Daimler’s Ola Kaellenius, BMW’s Oliver Zipse and Volkswagen’s Herbert Diess are attempting to recast the industry’s image with fresh modern designs and cars that pollute less.

“This is our idea of sustainable luxury,” Kaellenius said at the Frankfurt car show. “Electromobility is the core business for Mercedes-Benz.”

The Taycan, a low-slung four-door sports car with a range of 450 kilometers, is Volkswagen-owned Porsche’s attempt to inject desirability into premium electric cars, while the group’s mainstream brand, VW, is wooing customers with the ID3 compact.

Electric cars have seen many false dawns and German carmakers have struggled to win over customers accustomed to a recipe of high horsepower and large performance vehicles.

Mini offered customers an electric version of its city vehicle in 2009, BMW launched the carbon-fiber built i3 in 2013 and Mercedes sold an electric B-Class in 2014. These models failed to stand out and customers complained about high prices, long charging times and inefficient batteries with limited ranges.

US-based startup Tesla appealed to tech-savvy customers with its Model S in 2012 but has struggled to ramp up production volumes. As a result, global sales of electric vehicles stood at only 1.26 million in 2018, just 1.5 percent of the 86 million passenger vehicles sold last year, according to JATO Dynamics.

BMW presented two electric sports cars in Frankfurt, the “Concept 4” and the “BMW Vision Next,” hoping that sporting credentials will woo customers that might ordinarily buy a combustion- engine vehicle. “Design can speed up change and the acceptance of new technologies,” BMW’s design chief Adrian van Hooydonk said.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend