On huge LED walls the manufacturers let their latest products drive through cities and forests. Bright lights fall from the ceiling, illuminating painted polished floors. Bass-heavy music roars through the halls: For fleeting visitors, the 2019 International Motor Show (IAA) appears like a motor show like many others before it. At second glance, however, it becomes clear that no car show has ever been so much about e-mobility. Rarely has it been so dominated by social debates. The big topic: climate protection.
Even before Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess presented the new ID.31 in Frankfurt, he met with environmental activist Tina Velo for a discussion. It could also be said that the automotive industry is engaged in a dialogue with one of its harshest critics. “My stomach turns when I hear that the automotive industry has understood the signs of the times,” criticizes Tina Velo – who works under a pseudonym – in an interview organized by the German daily newspaper taz. She accuses the car manufacturers of “greenwashing” and a lack of credibility.
Diess responds by referring to the new electric cars and Volkswagen Group’s decarbonization program. The goal: by 2050, the company should be completely climate neutral. The CEO argues that the best way to achieve individual mobility is to use e-cars in conjunction with a rapid turnaround in energy consumption. “People need mobility, that is part of their lives.”
No other new products will receive as much attention at the IAA 2019 as the ID.3 – the world’s first balance sheet CO2-neutral electric car. But it was not only at the Volkswagen stand that the electric cars outperformed the combustion engines in terms of public interest. Just a few steps away at Porsche, the new Taycan2 commands the show – the sportiest electric car in the world. At Audi, the e-tron3 is just as eye-catching as the AI:TRAIL quattro4, an electrically powered off-roader for the traffic of the future. SEAT scores with the Mii electric5 or the e-born6 study, ŠKODA with the CITIGOe iV7.
Anyone leaving the Volkswagen Group hall will find themselves, after a short walk, in front of an impressive charging park. Here, at the joint venture IONITY, there is a lot of activity: one electric car leaves the charging station with a full battery, another drives up silently. Less than two years ago, leading automobile manufacturers joined forces to provide a better charging infrastructure on the European motorways. “Today, 140 charging parks are in operation and 50 more are under construction. Next year we will reach our target of 400 charging parks in 24 countries,” says Michael Hajesch, CEO of IONITY. The cooperation between Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW, Daimler and Ford, has also just been joined by Hyundai, as a new partner.
At the IAA, IONITY will be presenting an enhanced fast-charging pillar designed to make “refueling” even easier for electric car drivers. “The menu is available in ten languages throughout Europe, giving users a free choice,” says Hajesch. With a height of 2.60 meters, the “High Power Charger” is immediately visible at service areas, an illuminated ring shows from a distance whether it is free, reserved or occupied. The first of the new charging stations will go into operation in a few weeks in Denmark. Even today, IONITY’s electricity comes from renewable sources all over Europe. The 350kW charging network enables short charging times of often only a few minutes.
After cars, fast charging points and wall boxes for the home are likely to be the most frequent exhibits at the IAA 2019. At Daimler’s stand, they are just as much in evidence as at Ford. For the launch of the ID.3, Volkswagen is launching the ID. Charger for the domestic garage, which can be used to fully charge the first edition with a 58kWh battery in around six hours. Launch price: from 399 euros.
For many trade fair visitors, electric cars are still an unknown parameter – which is why explaining them is also one of the key trends at this year’s IAA: Daimler, for example, is showing its guests inside the EQC 400 with the use of a tablet, and at the Chinese manufacturer Byton, prospective customers can get into the electric SUV M byte with VR glasses. With ID. Insights, Volkswagen provides glimpses into the powertrain and interior concept of the ID.3.
Much is also explained in Volkswagen’s TV studio – with which the company reported live from a motor show for the first time. Ralf Pfitzner, Head of Sustainability, explains how Volkswagen intends to make its way to becoming a climate-neutral Group. According to Pfitzner, Volkswagen wants to improve the CO2 balance of passenger cars over their entire life cycle by 30 percent by 2025 compared to 2015. “This is extremely ambitious, and also more than the law requires of us.” By 2050, the company should be completely CO2-neutral. “From our point of view, e-mobility is the main way to achieve CO2 neutrality in the transport sector,” emphasizes Pfitzner during the TV broadcast.
In Hall 4, visitors to the IAA will experience that the electric drive is by no means only suitable for new models – but also for vintage cars too. At its stand, the specialist company eClassics from Baden-Württemberg will be showing how historic Volkswagen Beetles can be retrofitted with components from the new e-up!8. “The demand is there,” reports one employee. By the way: Anyone who invests in the conversion will receive an electric power steering system in addition to the electric drive – a dream of many car drivers in the past. The range of the e-Beetle, which can reach speeds of up to 150km/h, is also impressive. It is over 200 kilometers – enough for a relaxing trip in an electrified vintage classic car.
1 Volkswagen ID.3: The vehicle is not yet for sale in Europe
2 Porsche Taycan Turbo S: Combined power consumption: 26.9kWh/100km; combined CO2 emissions: 0g/km / Porsche Taycan Turbo: Combined power consumption: 26.0kWh/100km; combined CO2 emissions: 0g/km
3 Audi e-tron: Power consumption combined in kWh/100km: 24.6–23.7 (NEDC); 26.4–22.9 (WLTP), combined CO2 emissions: 0g/km
4 Audi AI:TRAIL quattro: Concept car
5 SEAT Mii electric: Combined power consumption (kWh/100 km): 12.9; combined CO2 emissions: 0g/km; Efficiency class: A+
6 SEAT e-born: Concept car
7 ŠKODA CITIGOe iV: Combined power consumption (kWh/100 km): 12-8-12.9; combined CO2 emissions: 0g/km
8 Volkswagen e-up! The vehicle is not yet for sale