Electricity was en vogue at the recent Paris Motor Show. Few automakers had any new ICE vehicles (isn’t that an oxymoron anyway?), but there were updates to several production EVs, and a couple of promising concepts, on display.
The Renault Zoe, Europe’s best-selling plug-in vehicle, has gotten a substantial battery upgrade. An available 41 kWh battery pack gives the compact hatchback a range of 185-250 miles (on the generous European test cycle) – the longest of any non-Tesla sold in Europe. The new pack uses cells from LG Chem, and fits in the same space as the old one.
“The new battery removes the final psychological barrier that stands in the way of buying an electric car, since Zoe users can now travel further and enjoy a wider variety of driving situations without worry about charging,” the company said.
Smart was showing off its 2018 fortwo electric drive, which is to go on sale in the US in the first half of next year. It incorporates the redesign that smart gave to its legacy models in 2016, but no earthshaking electric upgrades. An 80 hp electric motor and a 17.6-kWh battery pack deliver 99 miles of range for the hardtop coupe, and 96 miles for the convertible cabrio (on the European cycle). There is also a four-door forfour model that’s only available in Europe.
Volkswagen confirmed that the new e-Golf will get a larger battery, boosting its range well over 100 miles (EPA). But the star at the VW stand was the new I.D. Concept, an electric hatchback that the company says will go on sale in 2020. It will be the first vehicle built on VW’s new MEB modular architecture, designed specifically for EVs.
The I.D. sports a 168 hp motor in the rear, a battery pack under the floor, and 250 to 375 miles of range.
The I.D. Concept includes a preview of a fully automated driving mode that Volkswagen hopes to introduce in 2025. When the car is in automatic mode, the steering wheel will retract into the dashboard, opening up more space for the occupants (and removing the temptation to take control).
Mercedes-Benz also rolled out a concept EV: the Generation EQ is meant to foreshadow the company’s upcoming lineup of plug-ins (perhaps an entire sub-brand), which will be “Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric.” Someone at Daimler (at least in Marketing) has a handle on the most important coming trends.
Although it bears a resemblance to the GLC compact crossover, the Generation EQ is built on its own dedicated modular architecture. It boasts a pair of electric motors with total output of 400 horsepower, and a 70 kWh under-floor battery pack made by Daimler’s Accumotive division. Range is about 500 km.
GLM, an automaker from Kyoto, Japan, introduced its G4 concept supercar, which drew a lot of attention for its hi-tech doors, which dramatically unfold to display seating for four. Inside is a twin-motor electric powertrain with 536 hp and 737 ft-lb of torque – it features torque-splitting and a multi-stage transmission.
The 0-62 mph time is 3.7 seconds, top speed is 155 mph, and range is estimated at 248 miles (on the optimistic NEDC cycle). GLM intends to produce this baby “soon,” and sell it in Asian markets for around $224,000.