The 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show was this week, and like all shows, its trends let us peek behind the curtain and take a look at where automakers see the industry heading in the near future. Individual concepts may or may not ever see production, but the choices they make on what to bring to the show are important.
So what did we learn this year? What trends did we see? What are the important takeaways? Here are five.
1. New kids on the block
As always, there were a few new brands at the show this year trying to break onto the scene with “the next big thing.” One of the more intriguing cars was the Thunder Power sedan from a Taiwanese power tool company. It was supposedly designed by Zagato and offered a 404 mile range on a single charge. The company claims it will go on sale in 2017, but we’re not so sure.
The other big story from a newcomer was the revival of the defunct Borgward nameplate. While the company was originally German, it’s been revived with Chinese funding and will assemble its cars in Beijing. The BX7 and BX7 TS SUVs it brought might not be groundbreaking, but they’ll probably do fine in China.
2. SUVs are big
It would probably be easier to list the vehicles shown at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The ridiculously-expensive Bentley Bentayga and Jaguar F-Pace were the big stories going into the show because they represent major departures for their respective brands. Luxury sedans aren’t paying the bills anymore, and the real money is in luxury SUVs.
Nissan also showed off an important SUV. The Gripz concept was said to be inspired by the Z sports cars the company is known for, but more importantly, it’s also expected to replace the 370Z. Nissan hasn’t updated its sports car in years, so it’s not unexpected that the company would release something new soon, but not many people expected it to be an SUV.
3. Sports cars are not
The fact that Nissan is killing off the 370Z and replacing it with a crossover SUV should give you a pretty good idea of what the future of the sports car looks like. Sadly, it doesn’t look good. Ferrari and Lamborghini showed off topless versions of their already-existing supercars, and Rolls-Royce showed off a topless version of the Wraith, but where were the sports cars?
Brabus had a tuned version of the Mercedes-AMG GT, and Honda had its motorcycle-car trackday special on display, but there weren’t actually any new sports cars intended for real people to buy and drive on regular roads. It’s sad, but with people more interested in SUVs than anything small and low, the number of new sports cars arriving soon will probably be disappointingly small.
4. Efficiency is in
Not only was nearly every vehicle on display an SUV, nearly every one of them had some sort of plug-in hybrid version. Porsche had the gorgeous, all-electric Mission E concept that could be the future of the company’s sedan lineup, and Mercedes-Benz had the wild Concept IAA with its shape-shifting aerodynamic tail and futuristic looks.
In Europe more than anywhere else in the world, the expense of gasoline makes fuel efficiency incredibly important. Turbochargers, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles, and even diesels are all necessary to meet emissions regulations, as well as to fulfill customer expectations for efficiency. Luckily, they’re all still committed to using new technology to preserve some semblance of fun in their cars.
5. So are hatchbacks
If it wasn’t an SUV at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, it was probably a hatchback. Infiniti finally joined the small hatch game with the Q30, which is actually a surprisingly-attractive vehicle that might do something to help Infiniti increase its sales. Mini also showed up with the new Clubman, a six-door hatch that promises to provide more practicality than your regular Mini Cooper Hardtop while still being smaller than the competition.
Fuel efficiency is important in Europe, but so is space efficiency, and sedans aren’t nearly as practical as hatchbacks and station wagons. The rest of the world knows it, and parts of America are starting to catch on, but until we do, it’ll be Europe that gets all the cool, practical, fun hatchbacks.