Paris Motor Show To Feature Diesel-Free and Tesla-Competitive Electric Cars

While the biennial Paris Motor Show scheduled to start four days from now was previously known as a showcase for high-performance diesel cars from French automakers, electric cars will be the recurring theme at this year’s event.

Some of that comes from concern by German automakers that Tesla will be able to dominate the luxury electric car space. There’s also the one-year anniversary that just passed of the Volkswagen diesel emissions reporting scandal, which has spawned a new wave of electrification campaigns by VW and Daimler.

Volkswagen will be revealing the first of its long list of all-electric models built on its new MEB (modular electrification kit) platform with its battery pack beneath the car’s floor. This near-production concept car will be similar in size to the VW Golf hatchback, with interior space rivaling that of the Passat. It’s said to have 250 to 300 miles in range per charge, likely under Europe’s more lengthy NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) standards. It’s expected to launch in 2018 or 2019 and will be followed by other new electric models, including the BUDD-e crossover concept shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Those interested can view a set of design sketches for VW’s electric concept car.

VW’s Porsche brand is rolling out the second-generation Panamera that will include a second-gen plug-in hybrid version. Porsche said it will be more powerful than the current Pananera plug-in hybrid and will have longer electric motor driving range.

Daimler has been backing away from starting up a separate electric brand similar to BMW’s i brand, but the automaker will be showing a concept car that “embodies its vision for a new range of purpose-built electric cars.” Few details were revealed by Mercedes-Benz of its all-electric concept, but it’s expected to be a crossover based on the GLC with a range of 320 miles per charge, as reported by Automotive News. The 320 mile range is likely to be based on the NEDC methodology, and will have fewer miles in the U.S. under EPA standards.

Mercedes does have six new electric models in the pipeline scheduled to be released between 2018 and 2024. While they won’t be badged with a separate brand, they are expected to be visibly distinct with a striking design and nomenclature, according to Automobilwoche, a sibling publication of Automotive News.

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BMW, which has been disappointed with its i3 sales performance as a Tesla competitor, is expected to reveal a production i8 Spyder plug-in hybrid. It will share the stage in Paris with a revised i8 couple unveiling. Both will share a longer-range battery and more powerful electric motor, Automotive News said.

Several of BMW’s top executives will be staying home at the headquarters in Munich to ponder the fate of the i brand and its electrified vehicles. They’ll be rethinking how to build expensive electric cars and keep the company profitable.

Mitsubishi will play off its Outlander plug-in hybrid’s popularity in the European market with the GT-PHEV Concept. The concept vehicle offers a plug-in powertrain with a gasoline engine and three electric motors, one at the front and two at the rear. Mitsubishi says it will be able to generate an impressive 75-mile driving range under electric power.

Ferrari will show the LaFerrari Aperta (aptera translates to “open” from Italian), which is an open-top version of the $1.1 million, limited-edition LaFerrari hybrid. Ferrari said that the entire production line has already been sold out, for an undisclosed price. Ferrari is also unveiling a fuel-efficient twin-turbocharged V-8 engine GTC4Lusso variant. That’s part of the Italian automaker’s strategy to meet government pressure in fuel economy improvements, reports Automotive News.

General Motors will champion the upcoming Chevy Bolt electric car in Europe through the Opel Ampera-e. There will only be slight, cosmetic differences with the Ampera-e having an Opel grille and slightly different bumpers to comply with European Union crash regulations.

Last week, Smart announced that the Paris Motor Show will be where the automaker unveils its revamped electric drive, now available on all three of its models. Smart says that it’s the first automaker to offer gasoline engine and all-electric versions of its vehicle lineup.

The Smart ForTwo is being built on a next-generation platform that will, for the first time, be extended over to the Cabrio and Smart ForFour models. The U.S. will see the new Smart ForTwo coupe with electric drive starting in the spring of 2017, and the Smart ForTwo cabriolet variation will show up soon after in the summer. Pricing on the ForTwo models will be announced later. For some unstated reason, the Smart ForFour won’t be available in the U.S., though it is sold in Europe.

Automotive News