The biennial IAA motor show in Frankfurt was always going to be big, with big brands continuing to push their agenda of change, looking to reposition themselves as an industry that cares about the planet. There was no shortage of talk about responsibility, about the necessity of change and about the future.
With the industry under a microscope because of emissions scandals and growing environmental concerns from customers, IAA wanted to present a clean image. Here is a rundown of the most significant launches from the show.
The most anticipated launch of the show was the ID.3, VW's first battery car in a new assault on electrification. It's been a long time coming with VW already opening up pre-orders, although the exact pricing still hasn't been revealed. It's a refreshing EV however, compact, available in different battery sizes and options to make it appear at a range of price points. Under €30k is the closest we'll get to a real figure right now, but VW is going to be pushing this new EV hard.
No one could quite believe it when Honda took its concept compact electric car and basically said "this is the production version". The Honda e retains charming features, giving it personality and a refreshing take on the compact segment. It's priced from just over £26k, will be delivered from mid 2020 and although it will only give you about 135 miles of range, could prove to be a popular little car. It's not coming to the US though.
Land Rover Defender
The rebirth of a legend is always a tricky thing and Land Rover appears to be giving the Defender fans what they want: customisation options, boxy design with exposed bolt heads for an industrial look, but dressed up with a little more comfort and sophistication inside. It will still come in 110 and 90 versions, designed to be tougher than other SUVs but as capable offroad as you can handle. It launches with a range of engines, plug-in hybrids to follow and finally an electric version in the future. From £45k makes it costly, but a commercial version will launch for £35k in the future.
Porsche faces some of the same troubles that Land Rover does, shifting Porsche over to an electric system, while retaining the essence of what makes it a Porsche. Visually, it's hard to complain, even if the addition of Turbo and Turbo S names have caused some consternation - not least for Elon Musk. Yes, the Taycan is a five-door luxury sports car, a natural alternative to the Tesla Model S. Porsche is talking up the performance, and the repeatability of that performance. Prices run from £115k for what is unquestionably an exciting addition to electric cars.
The electric car market is a boiling pot of startups wanting to be the next Tesla - and Byton sits amongst those ranks. The M-Byte is a confirmed production car for China in 2020, promising a luxury SUV experience, with two or four wheel-drive options, with the AWD version getting a more capacious battery that should take you out to 270 miles. The price is suggested at €54,000, however, which sounds competitive.
Here's a car you're never going to be able to buy, because all 63 of the Sián have already been sold for over €2 million. That's probably fortunate, because the name isn't Gaelic, it's Bolognese, so exactly how you'd ask for it at your friendly Lambo dealership, we don't know. It's a V12 hybrid, pumping out 819HP, 0-62 in 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 217mph. Snark aside, what the Sián does is use a 48V electrical system with capacitor to provide a power boost, the first time this has been done in a performance car in this way. Still, Lamborghini is about drama and drama is what you get.
VW's electric SUV
You can't actually see much, but that was the point. This is VW's ID SUV, based on the ID Crozz concept, that will launch in 2020 - including into the US. There's not a lot to see here but we're expecting it to lift a lot from the ID.3 and fuse it with a bit of the VW T-Cross. But please move along, there's not a lot to see here.
BMW Concept 4
BMW likes to say that it's leading the way on electrification, having had the i3 in the market for many years. But it's the Concept 4 that grabs the attention, not just from the questionable mega-grille, but because this is the car that will become the BMW i4 in 2021. BMW says this sports coupe will come with a range of power options for the range of customers who will want to buy it.
Firmly lodged in concept land is the Hyundai 45, celebrating 45 years of the company with a vision of the future. The lounge style chairs rotate to make it easier to get in and out, with a minimalist relaxing interior. It's also another example of design trying to make a human connection, with expressive lights that remind us of Wall-e.
Audi has been trotting out concepts through the year, looking at concepts for future mobility and the AI:Trail is designed as an uncompromising offroad vehicle. Yes, it looks like something that should be driving across the surface of Mars, with oversized windows meaning you can actually see the wheels so you can make sure you avoid those obstacles. We can't help thinking you'll end up with mud sprayed all over them, but it's still a pretty good-looking statement car.