Frankfurt shows how soon electric can be ‘normal’

  15 September 2019

At the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, electric cars elbowed traditional cars out of the limelight. For years a curiosity, this was the show where EVs became everyday.

Volkswagen basically forgot the Golf as the ID.3 dominated its stand – and it didn’t feel at all out of the ordinary in doing so. Over at Honda, the e took centre stage, with the NSX gathering dust in the corner. Opel Vauxhall? The new Corsa was the star; the Corsa-e was the one dominating the exhibits.

On one side of the JLR stand was the new Land Rover Defender, deservedly getting plentiful attention. But on the other side, a Jaguar I-Pace was centre stage. Electric cars were everywhere.

Motor shows expose the upcoming focus of car manufacturers. What is shown here, is on retailers’ floors just months later. Based on the overriding message of Frankfurt 2019, 2020 is going to be electric.

Car companies have no choice. New rules, requiring them to hit a fleet-wide new car CO2 average of 95g/km, come into force on 1 January 2020. Only by going electric, in force, can brands achieve this and avoid punitive fines.

The sheer normality of this looming electric future struck me as I walked between halls. Frankfurt is so big, car brands put on shuttles to scurry journalists between exhibits. Traditionally, they have been the fanciest or freshest cars in the line-up: limos, and newly-launched models.

This year, they were almost entirely electric. The Mini E, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Audi e-tron, and various others. Seeing them silently whirring by felt just, well, normal.

The standout was actually the combustion-engine Skoda Superbs which were part of the mix. When you’re used to electric, even a quiet combustion engine sounds loud. Even just a few exhaust emissions are more frown-worthy than zero emissions.

It jarred, like throwing a glass bottle in the bin, or forgetting your bags for life at the supermarket. Think what Blue Planet did for our view of single-use plastics.

Once your customers realise how normal electric cars are, the future will suddenly become the norm. And, increasingly, ICE cars frowned upon.

Be prepared: it will happen sooner than you think.


Richard Aucock


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