September Will Be Great Month For New Plug-in Vehicles

Never mind that next month the U.S. government will be bending its ear to automakers asking it to put the brakes on cleaner car development, September will otherwise see an intensive 30-day spate of new plug-in vehicle unveilings.

Yes, as the feds are mulling whether to freeze or amend 2021-2025 fuel economy and emission rules, the rest of the world is moving on, and a bunch of all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are in store.

An obvious venue for new vehicle reveals will be the upcoming Frankfurt auto show, the biggest such shindig of the year. Apart from that, carmakers are selecting other time slots on the calendar to show what they can do.

Some models will be evolutionary, some already announced, but being more fully shown. Any potential surprises will be, well, a surprise, and we cannot account for those but also in store are at least a couple Big News model reveals during the ninth month that begins this Friday.

Among already expected models – some may come after September but are expected by this fall – include plug-in versions of the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, Hyundai Ioniq, Kia Niro (possibly), VW Golf, and Tiguan (but it may be delayed).

Here are a few others …

Honda Urban EV Concept

Honda is not yet known for a heavy hand in plug-in cars, but its “Electric Vision” calling for two-thirds of its products to be electrified by 2030 mean this is beginning to change.

One entry into the field, and to debut in Frankfurt, is to be its all-electric Urban EV Concept.

Little is known about it beyond a teaser image of an info screen, but it’s believed to be a small and nimble EV headed for European inner city duty.

Details like range, cost, performance – and even what it looks like – will come next month.

Smart Vision EQ ForTwo

This fully autonomous EV with 30-kWh battery and electric motor has already had the cover lifted off of it in advance this week, and shows a vision for 2030 by the small car company run by the folks who also make Mercedes-Benz.

Lacking such needless appendages as a brake or accelerator pedal – forget about a clutch pedal – the two-seat car-sharing vehicle was conceptualized as being a nearly sphere shaped pod, but now has design language familiar to Smart cars.

“The smart vision EQ fortwo is our vision of future urban mobility; it is the most radical car sharing concept car of all: fully autonomous, with maximum communication capabilities, friendly, comprehensively personalisable and, of course, electric,” says smart CEO Annette Winkler. “With the smart vision EQ fortwo, we are giving a face to the themes with which Mercedes-Benz Cars describes the vision of future mobility within the CASE strategy.”

Daimler’s “CASE” strategy (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric) led to the EQ fortwo being built from the ground-up as car-sharing specific autonomous vehicle. Vision EQ vehicles are also being designed to talk to one another and other autonomous cars on the road, theoretically transforming urban traffic into what Daimler calls “city flow.”

Looks nifty, and here’s hoping for more innovations before 2030.

MINI Electric Concept

Also previewed already, the MINI Electric Concept based on the MINI two-door hatchback looks familiar, but it attempts to take cute design to a new level.

Untold are facts about the powertrain and other facets prior to its Frankfurt full unveiling.

Aerodynamics for this EV are enhanced with a closed radiator grille, while a Striking Yellow accent bar on the grille along with an E badge in the same shade gives a contrasting effect on the body. Aerodynamics are further improved by add-on parts on the front apron, while the simulated “air intakes” have also been sealed. The rest of the body has been painted Reflection Silver, a matte liquid metal color shade.

“With its characteristic go-kart feeling and powerful electric motor, the MINI Electric Concept is great fun to drive while also being completely suitable for everyday use – and producing zero emissions to boot,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad. “That’s how we at MINI envisage electric mobility in tomorrow’s world,”

2018 Nissan Leaf


Among the Big News vehicles is Nissan’s long-awaited follow up to the EV that put major manufacturer EVs on the map.

The Leaf has been nursed along now almost seven years since its December 2010 sales launch, and the new car builds on what over a quarter million buyers liked, with hopefully improvements all around.

At present, it’s believed the new Leaf will get two battery options, and only the smaller of the two will be for sale for year one. It’s not believed the battery will be liquid cooled, but the car is being redesigned for a more mainstream look.

Rumored also is fast charging capability of as much as 150 kW.

The Leaf will enter the market this fall against the 238-mile Chevy Bolt EV, which starts at $37,495 before a $7,500 federal credit.

It will have the basis for semi-autonomous driving, and Nissan intends to expand that capability in coming years.

Tesla Semi

Another Big News vehicle coming in September, and the one that in more ways than one could make the biggest splash, is Tesla’s Semi.

Although this week diesel engine maker Cummins showcased an electric heavy duty truck of its own, as has been the case with Tesla revelations before, the Semi promises much in shifting the market toward electric power.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted in April the truck which later news revealed is to feature autonomous capabilities is “seriously next level.” This includes design, power, speed, and handling, though there’ve been mixed reports on its potential as an over-the-road vehicle.

This month industry insiders said the Semi is being targeted for only 200-300-mile routes proximal to centralized charging, but other statements by Musk suggest the end goal is a replacement for cross-country haulers.

“It is a heavy duty, long range, semi-truck. So it has the highest weight capability and with long range. So essentially it’s meant to alleviate the heavy duty trucking loads,” Musk said this year. “And this is something which people do not today think is possible. They think the truck doesn’t have enough power or it doesn’t have enough range. And then with those with the Tesla Semi we want to show that no, an electric truck actually can out-torque any diesel semi and if you had a tug-of-war competition, the Tesla semi will tug the diesel semi uphill.”

Something else the Cummins may not do is handle like a “sports car” which Musk said after a test drive in the secret vehicle which no one has yet taken a real photo of.

“I mean it’s quite bizarre to test drive it,” Musk said. “You know, when I was driving the test prototype for the first truck, it’s really weird because you’re driving around and you’re just so nimble and you’re in this giant truck.”

It all sounds good, and more will be divulged next month for a vehicle that may be in production within a couple years or less.

Miscellaneous Mentions

The Frankfurt show has trade days open Sept. 4-15, and the public days are Sept. 16-24.

You can thus expect a slew of plug-in vehicle stories in the first half of the month, and included in these will be some European models known and somewhat known.

Somewhat known is the innovative Jaguar E-Pace which takes a fresh-sheet approach to an electric SUV.

Another vehicle expected is Daimler’s EQ brand hatchback as the company that makes Mercedes-Benz ramps toward more models this decade into next.

Also, a facelifted BMW i3 and i8 Roadster are also in store at Frankfurt, and no doubt more vehicles will be unveiled.


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