Automakers around the world have been making an appearance this week at IAA Mobility 2023 in Munich, the largest auto show in Europe.
One of the biggest themes at the event this year was the heightened competition between European and Chinese automakers, as the Europeans fight to introduce lower-cost EVs and catch up to China’s lead in developing cheaper, consumer-friendly models.
This fight is playing out on the world stage amongst the backdrop of the ongoing EV price war, sparked in part by Tesla’s global push to slash EV prices.
Audi Q6 e-tron
On display at IAA 2023 from Audi was the Q6 e-tron’s new cockpit and interior. The main draw? Three screens on the dashboard, a setup that Audi is referring to as the “Digital Stage,” stretching from the driver’s side to the front passenger. Each display will have different sizes and features.
The first display, an 11.9-inch screen sitting directly in front of the driver, shows the gauge cluster and other vehicle information. It connects to a 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display, with special ambient lighting that gives it the appearance of floating at night, or so Audi says.
The last display sits in front of the front passenger, a 10.9-inch screen that offers audio and navigation controls, and has the ability to play movies during a drive. To avoid distracting the driver, there’s a privacy mode setting.
And if those three screens weren’t enough, the Q6 e-tron will also include an augmented reality heads-up display on the windshield to display such information as speed, traffic signs and navigation.
BMW Vision Neue Klasse
BMW unveiled the Vision Neue Klasse, an electric concept car that showcases the automaker’s next generation of EVs. Neue Klass is the name for BMW’s new EV architecture.
The Vision Neue Klasse is meant to embody the perfect blending of the old with the new. BMW used abstract words like “clear,” “elegant” and “timeless” to describe the new EV design language, none of which seem new at all. The concept car looks very much like a BMW, but I’ll grant, it’s a more streamlined, tech-focused BMW.
The company says its future generation of BMW iDrive, the automaker’s infotainment system, will transform its vehicle into a digital experience space that “merges real and virtual worlds.” Similar to BMW’s Dee concept car, which was revealed during CES in January, the Vision features BMW’s new heads-up display, BMW Panoramic Vision, where information will be projected across the entire width of the windscreen.
BMW says its HUD is one of a range of features that change the human-car interaction, including a voice controlled personal assistant, a central display and multifunction buttons on the steering wheel.
The automaker intends to bring the first vehicles on this platform to production in 2025. By the end of 2023, BMW aims to double its EV sales, with 15% of global car sales made up by EVs, according to Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of management at BMW.
BYD unveils new EV lineup for European customers
BYD came to play at IAA this year. The Chinese automaker announced five electric cars for the European market and a sixth new energy model, under the BYD sub-brand Denza, in Munich.
The automaker unveiled the BYD Seal D-sedan, built on BYD’s e-Platform 3.0 and the first to use the automaker’s cell-to-body technology which integrates the body and the battery for better structural strength. The Seal offers around 350 miles of range and can hit 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds. It’ll start at €44,900 ($48,479), which is just a touch more expensive than the Model 3 in Europe.
BYD’s Seal is also available in an SUV version (the BYD Seal U) that has room for five occupants and plenty of cargo space. It’ll be available to European customers in the first half of 2024.
The Warren Buffet-backed automaker also presented to the European market its premium sub-brand Denza, including the D9 MPV, a seven-seater hybrid.
Mercedes unveils smaller, cheaper G-Wagon
Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius said Sunday that Mercedes will build a smaller, cheaper, all-electric version of its iconic (and expensive) G-Wagon.
The “baby” G-Class EV will be “fun to drive — on and off the road,” according to Källenius. It’s not clear how much the vehicle will cost or when it’ll go to market, but the vehicle will have the same boxy design features found in Mercedes’ lineup.
The automaker plans to begin selling an electric version of the larger G-Wagon, the EQG, in 2024.
Mercedes CLA EV concept car, a Tesla challenger
The CLA concept car is the first of Mercedes’ new entry-level EV class that will underpin the automaker’s future compact and midsize EVs. The four-door coupe promises a range of 466 miles, a direct challenge to the Tesla Model S, which offers up to 405 miles of range, according to EPA estimates. The CLA class also promises rapid top-up of up to 248 miles in just 15 minutes.
Mercedes said the CLA class was close to production, but didn’t say when it would hit markets or how much it would cost. However, as an entry-level car, the goal is to be an entryway into the luxury vehicle maker. Tesla has sparked an EV price war around the world, something Mercedes will take into account when it’s time to price its new electric class.
Mini goes big for Americans
Mini is hoping to capture the attention of Americans by going big, or going home. The BMW-owned tiny car brand is upsizing its largest model, the Countryman, and electrifying it.
The crossover will be available in engine and battery-powered versions, and it shares a platform with the subcompact BMW X1 Series.
Mini didn’t share pricing, but said its electric 2025 Mini Countryman will arrive in U.S. stores in September 2024.
Renault’s Scenic E-Tech SUV — designed for families
The new Scenic E-Tech is geared toward the sustainably-minded family. The vehicle is assembled in France to promote local manufacturing and reduce transportation emissions and is built with 24% recycled materials. Renault says 90% of the car’s mass, including the battery, is recyclable.
It’s also got the roominess to attract families carting kids and soccer balls and cellos and groceries, with a flat glass roof and a nine-foot wheelbase. The car also offers a decent range of 385 miles, perfect for city driving.
Renault says the car will reach the market at the beginning of 2024, but didn’t share at what price point.
Renault unveils Grand Kangoo E-Tech
Renault’s Kangoo small van series has been so popular that the company decided to launch a longer version: the Grand Kangoo. It’s got all the strengths of the original Kangoo, but just a little more space, and an electric motor.
The Grand Kangoo can seat seven adults comfortably, with three proper seats in the second row and two in the third. It also has more than two cubic feet of accessible storage space, including a sliding drawer and under-floor storage trays. The trunk has about 18 cubic feet of space with all seats up. With the rear seats removed and the front passenger seat folded down, that extends to about 132 cubic feet.
The Grand Kangoo’s 45 kWh battery gives the motor a polite 165 miles of range, which is fine, but not amazing. Renault says a 10-minute stop at a DC charging point can recover about 50 miles of range.
Renault will begin taking orders for the vehicle at the end of 2023, with deliveries starting in early 2024. The automaker did not share a price.
Tesla Model 3 refresh
Tesla revealed a revamped Model 3 version that will ship with several features previously exclusive to Tesla’s pricier Models X and S. Among them: ambient lighting, ventilated seats, claimed range improvements, a streamlined dashboard, an upgraded front touchscreen, the addition of a rear touchscreen and new paint hues, including “ultra red.” Plus, as The Autopian points out, the new Model 3’s front bumper looks a bit less pouty.
The sportier Model 3 seems to be coming to Europe and the Middle East first; Tesla is already accepting orders for the vehicle via its European websites, with deliveries scheduled to begin in October. The automaker hasn’t said when the vehicle will arrive in the U.S.
Volkswagen launches high-powered small EV
VW previewed a performance version of its upcoming small electric car with the ID GTI concept, including a golf ball inspired central controller and a checker-patterned interior fabric — throwbacks to the original Golf GTI revealed 48 years ago. Nostalgic drivers can even choose a “vintage mode” setting for the digital cockpit that recreates the dials from the Mk2 Golf GTI.
The ID GTI concept is described as a “sports car for the electric age that is suitable for everyday use.” VW didn’t give performance or power figures, but said drivers can simulate shifting gears through different modes, complete with the sound experience.
The concept car is based on the ID2all concept that VW unveiled in March, which is due to launch in 2025 at around $26,800.
XPeng brings G6 to Europe next year
Chinese automaker XPeng has been slowly inching into the European market. The company already sells its P7 sedan and G9 SUV in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. Now, XPeng says it’ll bring its latest premium electric SUV, the G6, to Europe next year. In particular, the automaker hopes to expand the sale of cars into Germany in 2024.