Electric Cars Dominate Paris Motor Show 2016
The Paris Motor Show got under way this week, with early signs suggesting that electric cars are the defining feature of this year’s event. From budget EVs to all-electric supercars, there have been more new arrivals in this market segment than at any time in the past.
German automaker Porsche provided new information about Mission E, the sporty EV in which it is investing almost £1 billion over the next four years. And while it will not be on sale until the start of the next decade, it is already shaping up to be a hugely influential arrival.
Promises made by Porsche about the performance capabilities and range of the Mission E are certainly impressive, with a fast-charge system allowing it to recoup 80 per cent of its battery power after a quarter of an hour plugged into the mains. And if the car can indeed cover 310 miles before requiring a recharge, it will be truly ready to take some of the market share from Tesla’s Model S saloon.
The concept iteration of the Mission E which appeared in Paris comes with a pair of electric motors powered by an 800-volt system that allows it to develop the equivalent of 592bhp. It should be able to hit 62mph in three and a half seconds, running on ultra-light carbon wheels and sporting a sleek aerodynamic exterior which makes it look like a natural evolution from the current Panamera range.
The interior is decked out with cutting-edge technology, including holographic displays, smartphone integration, gesture-based interactivity and even sensors which can track the movement of the driver’s eyes. Where this project differs from Tesla’s models is its apparently lack of pseudo-autonomous driving systems, which is something that Porsche has said it is not actively pursuing at the moment.
The next major EV to appear in Paris was the Generation EQ concept SUV from Mercedes-Benz, a much-hyped model that couples a four-wheel-drive system with a 420bhp electric power train. It promises to match the Mission E with a range of 310 miles while offering a luxurious interior that meets the expectations of traditional Mercedes-Benz buyers.
Fast charging is an aspect that Mercedes has pushed hard, claiming that just five minutes plugged into a compatible station will give the EQ the ability to cover 100 miles before it is out of power altogether. This technology is not quite ready for the mainstream market at the moment but should be perfected in the next few years before the final version of this car is released.
Touchscreen displays and instrument arrays fill the interior, while LED lighting gives it a space-age look, as expected from a concept car. This will all be toned down significantly as the design edges closer to mass production but should still ensure that the EQ range stands apart from classic SUVs.
The Renault Zoe has established itself as one of the first all-electric family cars to be available in the UK. And next year it is being revamped and revised, with the French manufacturer promising a boosted range of 250 miles when the batteries are fully charged.
This is thanks to the higher-capacity 41kWh cells that are being installed on the latest models, giving it the ability to travel 100 miles further than its predecessors and competitors before it needs to return to a charging station.
It is also expected that the price of the base model Zoe will come down slightly, although details of its release in the UK have yet to be confirmed.
The most compact EVs on show at the Paris Motor Show came from Smart, which introduced electric iterations of both the Fortwo and Forfour. These tiny city cars may only be able to cover 100 miles from a single charge, but for urban use this will hardly be an issue.
Recharging should take just 45 minutes, meaning that there is no need to leave them plugged in overnight. For commuters, this could be the best news of the show.