MUNICH, GERMANY (Pocket-lint) - The IAA Mobility show has moved home for 2021, now hosted in Munich, Germany, where various future electric vehicles (EVs) and concept cars were revealed at the show.
That's right: a real in-person event with actual cars to look at on the show floor. Well, floors plural - the show is spread around Munich, with many manufacturers still opting for digital-first reveals rather than prioritising in-the-metal presentations first.
IAA 2021 might not have been quite as big a showcase as some years of Frankfurt past, but as our best-of list below reveals, automotive manufacturers are going big on the normalcy of EVs, while dabbling in some more out-there concepts too.
Best of IAA Mobility 2021: Top EVs & concepts in pictures
BMW i Vision Circular concept
Its 'Circular' name is more than a nod to the message this car is all about: circular economy. Apparently 100 per cent of its materials are from recycled sources.
To look at you might think of this i Vision concept as a kind-of reimagined version of the BMW i3. The Circular is larger than that now-discontinued EV, of course, with a four-seat setup.
This vision of a fully electric future is slated for the year 2040, apparently, so there's no chance of seeing this on the roads any time soon.
Polestar Precept concept
Polestar's Precept concept was due to appear at Geneva 2020, but after that show was cancelled it's only been shown off a handful of times.
At IAA - on Polestar's stand in central Munich away from the Messe halls which lie east of the city - the car stands pride of place.
Although a concept, this is a glimpse of Polestar's future vision: high-end, elegant, all-electric, with sustainability front of mind, it's the kind of car that'll give the Audi e-tron GT a run for its money in the future.
Smart Concept 1
Smart has really hit the reset button with its Concept #1 - a much larger and more bling vision of its earlier typical city cars - which is no surprise as it's now owned by Geely, with Mercedes continuing to be in charge of design.
The Smart's underpinnings are that of the Merc EQA, but its visual aesthetic is anything but the same: the interior, dripping with rose gold on just about every accent, is certainly designed to grab you.
It's a striking rethink for the brand: and likely a needed one, given how its international sales have slumped in recent years.
A road-worth version (with various tweaks, no doubt) is expected to arrive from 2023, though, so it's not quite as fully 'Concept' as the name suggests.
Audi Grandsphere concept
Audi continues to build on its design language quite unlike any of its German rivals, with a subtler evolution of style than the likes of BMW.
The Audi Grandsphere concept - which is effectively a tease of a future all-electric A8 - is a luxury saloon with heaps of interior space. Ideal for carting around high-end clientele.
Dare we say it, there's an air of Aston Martin about the Grandsphere concept. Which is the highest of compliments, really.
Expect the coming years to show this concept's evolution into an all-singing, all-dancing A8. Maybe for 2025? Although nothing is set in stone as yet.
Mercedes EQG Concept
One of our favourites from the show, the EQG takes the classic G-Class wagon and delivers it in all-electric style. It's a concept car, but only by a whisker - as we expect the final production EQG to be largely similar.
Visually speaking the electrified G-Class retains the tall, rugged look, but without a combustion engine under the hood its gone with an altogether more delicate front end - the light-up grille and robot-like rounded headlights cut a distinctive figure.
Renault Megane E-Tech
If there's a car from the show to represent the homogenisation of EVs, it's the Megane E-Tech.
Renault's all-electric seemingly cherry-picks all the great and good of the EV car world right now: there's SUV styling and on-board tech that, with Google integrated, is mightly similar to what you'll find in a Polestar 2.
It's not one for especially long-distance runs, though, with either 40kWh or 60kWh battery pack options delivering 186 miles and 292 miles respectively (WLTP figures).
Ideal as a city runabout or commuter vehicle though, and with competitive pricing likely (TBC) this could be a popular option when it's on sale in 2022.
VW ID.5 GTX
The rainbow paintjob is there to semi disguise the ID5's true form - although a quick glance around it reveals a dropped roofline, giving this all-electric model a sportier stance than the current ID4 - in what Volkswagen calls its "SUV Coupe".
The ID5 will be the more performance-focused EV in the ID line-up, and while no final spec has been revealed just yet, it's said to be good for over 300 miles of range. Sounds like a desirable mix of performance and practicality is on the cards here.
The first reveal of the EQE shows off the all-electric E-Class, which sits below the EQS in Merc's range - offering up a slightly shorter, more compact and elegant saloon.
There's plenty of detail about this one, too, as its mid-2022 production date will see it on the road by 2023.
It'll come with a 91kWhr battery and 215kW rear-mounted motor, delivering 288bhp - said to be good for 410 miles (WLTP figure). There will also be a 4Matic all-wheel drive version.
Cupra UrbanRebel concept
This wild little racer is a vision of an all-electric hot hatch. Racing seats and harness belts in tow, outlandish wheels, and an aggy-looking style that's unlike anything else we've seen from any EV prior.
With the future accelerating towards electric, this one fits a gap that no others have yet looked toward. It's speedy, too, with a 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds from its 335bhp-capable motor.
Just a concept at this stage, the UrbanRebel is a preview for a production car that's slated for the roads come 2025.
Mini Vision Urbanaut
Lockdowns in 2020 held Mini's Vision Urbanaut concept from being shown-off in full when it was announced last November.
IAA 2021 was the perfect platform to slip the 'space-age driving lounge concept' - that's what we called it on first sight - onto BMW's stage, tucked just out of reach, but showing off the driverless apartment-like concept in a more believable way.
It's certainly a change of pace for Mini's typical go-kart-like cars, but a refreshing bit of fun nonetheless.
BMW iX5 Hydrogen
The critical detail here is the 'Hydrogen' part of the iX5's name. This is an FCEV - that being a fuel cell electric vehicle - which won't ever see a plug like an EV proper, as it instead uses hydrogen fuel.
Hydrogen is backed by a number of manufacturers - Toyota's second-gen Mirai went on sale in the UK earlier this year, for example - but the infrastructure is restrictive at present.
That said, given some investment, we think FCEVs are a more logical solution than plug-in EVs. So it's great to see BMW is continuing to back this option.
Yes, it's an Ioniq 5. Except, it's not: say hello to Hyundai's Robotaxi, a level four autonomous vehicle that's designed to be driverless.
Hyundai says its celebrating its driverless aspirations by "displaying our suite of sensors prominently" - as you can see from the blue light atop the car, and various projecting and highlighted sensors to the side and rear.
Various legislation will mean the Robotaxi might not be on many roads as soon as Hyundai will want, but as yet another push towards an automated future, it's fun to see another car-maker's take on the market.
Renault 5 EV prototype
Ok, so it's not new new, but how could we not include the Renault 5 EV prototype in this round-up? It's got looks that'll make any 30-something get all nostalgic and giddy.
We suspect it'll be a big success too: you only need to look at rivals, such as the Honda e, to see there's an increasing appreciation for city runabout EVs with a big focus on distinctive style and tech.
We think it's a super adaptation of a classic look, brought all up to date in a very refreshing manner indeed.
The EQB might not have the visual slap of the EQG concept - as shown further up the page - but Mercedes showed it was at IAA 2021 to win in terms of sheer volume: no other company showed-off this many new pure EVs.
The EQB is a compact SUV that you can even equip with a third row of seats, so ideal for aspiring families looking for the all-electric option and ample space (although the third row won't be especially roomy!).
It'll launch with a 67kWhr battery initially, so it's not the most capacious out there, but a long-range version is due in the future if long journeys (and a deeper wallet) are a requirement.
Volkswagen ID Life
We've kept this one until last because, well, Volkswagen decided to seal off its stand at the Messe on the Tuesday and therefore our distant, rope-obscured photograph is not the most revealing.
That said, the VW ID Life, as it's currently called in this concept form, is a really important car for the German marque: it'll transform into the ID2 (or perhaps ID1) in the all-electric range in the future, acting as the smaller SUV crossover that underpins the larger ID3, ID4 and incoming ID5 options.
The smaller stature and (unlikely to make it to production line) digital headlights give it a real sense of distinction, though, as something quite separate to the otherwise more 'sloping' roofline design you'll see in the ID range.
How different it'll be come its expected 2025 launch, however, we'll have to wait and see...