The 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show was so rich in concepts and production car debuts it was an embarrassment of riches. While there were plenty of production cars making their debuts, the concepts stole the show.
If there was one common thread the concepts all shared, it was that they were electrified. In some ways, this was many European automakers’ electric coming out party. It’s the next big thing whether you like it, want it, or not.
There was anticipation that there might be green-movement protests. A number of manufacturers feel that auto shows are passe, and chose not to attend at all. But the energy emanating from Frankfurt overcame any negative pre-show jitters.
The manufacturers presented both the best near-production and actual production vehicles, while also reaching for future needs both practical and Jetsons-like with concepts. Some of the suggested features leave you asking “Why?” but others make you wonder why they can’t be incorporated into the vehicles of right now?
The Frankfurt Motor Show allowed manufacturers to paint a rather attractive look into the future of electrification and autonomous driving with both concepts and debuts, announcing plans for carbon-neutral production goals and green practices through the 21st century.
MotorBiscuit presents the top picks our editors like that we’re sure will tickle your future-fancy.
Audi AI:TRAIL Concept
Audi’s take on the future of off-roading fun is the AI:TRAIL. An MB editor favorite of the Frankfort show, the concept pretends to light the way for how we will approach getting into the wilds. And speaking of lighting the way, one of the best features is mini-drones that flutter ahead lighting the dark trails, as the AI:TRAIL has no lights. The drones are its lights.
Other features include fold-out windshield and tailgate, removable rear hammock seats, all sorts of electronic guidance including ultrasound and lasers, and while it’s touted as an autonomous vehicle, it can be driven if the desire grabs you. Some of us hate camping, and yet, we’re already planning a future trip through the tropical Hawaiian rainforests as soon as we can get our hands on a production AI:TRAIL.
Hyundai 45 Concept
We were a little surprised to see the Hyundai 45 concept generate as much buzz as it did, but we’re not complaining. Hyundai says this concept is its future electric car design direction. The inspiration came from Hyundai’s first production car from 45 years ago called Pony, but also from their ItalDesign Pony concept from 1974.
As 45 is the theme they incorporated a number of 45-degree angles into the sheetmetal including some bold folds on the doors and rear quarters. The minimalist design is a refreshing break from the highly sculptured designs we saw a lot of at the Frankfurt Motor Show that seem more arbitrary than cohesive. This was one of the best concepts at Frankfurt.
Mercedes EQS Concept
As enthusiasts, we can take or leave luxury for style and speed, but in the case of the EQS concept, it has all of that and more. Mercedes says this is its answer to what they want the future of large luxury vehicle to be. One electric motor at each wheel propels the EQS, with rotating holographic modules for headlights that can project holographic images out into the road.
Many of the body panels are crammed with led lights as well as a “lightbelt” linking the front and rear lights along the body sides. In all the ESQ makes quite a statement about what the future will look like and how we interact with the vehicles we’ll be traveling in, which was the unspoken mantra for all of the concepts at the 2019 Frankfurt show.
Up to now, we’ve looked at the Frankfurt concepts, and while the Taycan might also look like a concept, it’s actually a production Porsche you’ll soon be able to buy. Probably the most talked-about production debuts, Porsche now considers the Taycan its flagship model. Porsche is all-in on electrification based on their promotion and presentation of the Taycan.
Three transmissions, adaptive air suspension, tungsten carbon-coated brakes, rear steering, not to mention 750 hp and 774 lb-ft of torque, you know this will raise the EV bar that Tesla has established. And this platform will be spun off into other models and configurations so we’re expecting quite a lot of buzz surrounding Porsche over the next few years.
Possibly the most important Volkswagen product since the introduction of the Rabbit in the mid-1970s is the ID.3 EV. This was a Frankfurt debut not only for the platform it rides on which is modular, but because it is the foundation for quite a few sedans, crossovers, and even the much-anticipated Microbus when it debuts in 2021.
While VW gets their bearings in Europe only with the ID.3, the US will be seeing plenty of variations in the coming months and years. That is what makes it so important to VW’s future products. With its Dieselgate scandal hovering over everything it does, this is a peace offering and pledge to keep things clean from here on out.
With the debut of the hybrid Sián production supercar, even muscle-bound Lamborghini is getting into the electrification act. One of the unique features of the drivetrain is an electric motor that uses a supercapacitor to jolt an extra 34 hp to the V12 rather than from battery power. Keep in mind, this is the most powerful engine Lamborghini has ever made and easily the fastest of the Frankfurt debuts. The blast of extra power is used for an extra shot of torque under acceleration and for better gas mileage, too.
Lambo says the supercapacitor is much lighter than batteries and provides 10-times more power than a similar system used on the Aventador. The extra weight from the hybrid components is offset by the extensive use of carbon fiber. The 0-to-60 time is 2.8 seconds, with the combined electric motor and the V12’s grunt figure 819 hp with a top speed of 217 mph.