The 2018 edition of the Paris Motor Show is all about electric cars. Filled with exciting new concepts and upcoming road-going models, Paris is the stage where car manufacturers can demonstrate their latest thoughts and ideas about the future of mobility as it transitions to electrification. Mercedes has brought its first all-electric vehicle, the EQC SUV, Audi’s E-tron range is also on show, and Renault has fleshed out its EZ family of electric concepts with a new self-driving luxury limo and an audacious redesign of the humble delivery van. In other words, there’s something for everyone.
Oct 5, 2018
Carmakers are a weird bunch. On one hand, they’re willing to give their designers free rein and millions of dollars to explore distant-future concepts, but then their production vehicles toe a narrow, unadventurous design line. Attending the Paris Motor Show this week, I see this dichotomy everywhere around me. Renault’s EZ-Ultimo self-driving limo is parked a few feet away from a fleet of anonymous-looking SUVs. Audi’s attention-grabbing PB18 E-tron supercar is flanked by uniformly forgettable autos. And Peugeot’s gorgeous e-Legend Concept is a drop of design flair and aggression amid a sea of visual predictability. I came to Paris looking for the future of electric car design, but all I’ve been able to find are a few lovely fantasies and a lot of staid continuity.Read Article >
What’s missing from the world of car design today is any sort of middle ground. You’re either limited to futzing around with headlights and other inconsequential cosmetics or you get a totally blank slate with no design constraints at all. Anyone can sketch out a romantic, enticing, opulent, fantastic — and unrealistic — concept for many years into the future. But where are the risky, opinionated, near-future designs that embrace the full range of possibilities that electric cars open up?
Rotating phlegmatically beneath an immodest #UnboringTheFuture banner at the Paris Motor Show, Peugeot’s e-Legend Concept might be my favorite of all the electric concept cars I’ve seen this week. Its design is inspired by the classic Peugeot 504 coupe, with a more aggressive styling that reminds me of Ford’s latest Mustang GT. But beneath that old-school muscular look is a fully autonomous, connected, all-electric vehicle. It’s a car that looks to the future without devaluing the brand’s past, and I love the result.Read Article >
Peugeot’s premise with the e-Legend is that you shouldn’t have to compromise on anything. The car has four driving modes, with the two autonomous ones seeing the steering wheel retract into the dashboard and opening up access to a 49-inch curved widescreen display. The Soft mode would reduce distractions and disturbances to a minimum, while the Sharp option would be a nightmare scenario of “maximum connection to your digital activity” like social networks. When you do want to drive, Legend mode would be your default, with a Boost mode turning up the driving excitement.
At the 2016 edition of the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz launched its all-electric EQ brand with the debut of a concept SUV, and now two years later the German company has returned to the French capital with the final road-going version of that car, the EQC. A lot rests on the success or otherwise of the EQC, but two things stood out to me when I saw it for myself in Paris this week: it’s prettier than the pictures, and it has no fewer than three USB-C charging ports inside, so I’m already a little enamored with it.Read Article >
Car exhibitions can sometimes feel like inflated promise factories, as all we ever seem to hear about are concept this and distant future that. Even with the EQC, we’re still months away from being able to buy one anywhere, and the US won’t be getting it until 2020, according to Mercedes’ stated plans. And then I come across something as basic and everyday as being able to charge my USB-C gadgets without the need for any special cables, and it makes me do a little fist pump. I mean, this Mercedes-Benz has three more USB-C ports than Microsoft’s latest Surface Pro and Laptop, how can I not celebrate that?
Oct 3, 2018
Electric cars hit a new global sales record in 2017 — 1 million cars sold, with more than half of that in China — but there may be a hitch to mass adoption: the number of adequate charging stations available. Before consumers take the plunge on a new electric car, they need to know that they can charge it.Read Article >
The number of electric charging stations in the US is small but growing. As of September 2018, there are an estimated 22,000 public charging stations in the US and Canada that are classified as level 2 and DC fast charging. (Typically, fast-charging stations supply 60 to 80 miles of range for every 20 minutes of charging.) By comparison, there are seven times more gas stations: about 168,000, according to FuelEconomy.gov.
The Mercedes-Benz Vision EQ Silver Arrow. That’s the name Mercedes has given to its latest breathtaking concept car, which the company actually deems a “show car” because it’s meant as an homage to the historic 1937 W125 Silver Arrow as well as an exciting teaser for electric supercars to come. So nothing here is imminently coming to an electrified Mercedes near you, and yet, the mere sight of the EQ Silver Arrow is a celebration in itself. Flamboyant, exaggerated, elongated, seamless, and smoothed and polished to a fine sheen, this car is the sort of thing we all daydreamed about in our youth.Read Article >
Needless to say, this electric Silver Arrow pays no heed to practical considerations. The original car was silver because painting its aluminum body would have added to its weight, whereas this one is all about its aesthetics and has multiple layers of “alubeam silver” applied to give it that liquid metal look. I suppose you can afford a bit of flair when you switch aluminum out for a carbon fiber frame. In terms of performance, though, Mercedes claims 750 horsepower and estimates an acceleration of 0 to 60 mph in under two seconds. And the EQ Silver Arrow is functional and can be driven; it’s not just a pretty shell with bombastic promises.
First exhibited at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance a month ago, Audi’s PB18 E-tron is the German marque’s unrestrained vision for what an all-electric racecar you can also drive to the shops might look like. It’s so outlandish that Audi hasn’t even bothered to give it much of a name: the PB18 is in reference to Pebble Beach, and the E-tron is simply Audi’s umbrella term for its electric cars.Read Article >
On first blush, I was sure this was merely a designer’s indulgence. Just look at the egotistical single seat in the middle of the low-slung chassis, the enormous windshield, the exposed suspension, and the elaborately ornamental headlights. The PB18 is certainly a car that seeks attention. But once I gave it my attention and spoke to its designer, Gael Buzyn, I came to understand that it’s actually a lot more sensible than it looks.
The Paris Motor Show is Renault’s “home” car exhibition, so the big French company always makes an extra effort for it. Today’s new self-driving concept from Renault is arguably its least realistic, but certainly one of its most provocative. Called the EZ-Ultimo, it expands the EZ family of all-electric, distant-future concept vehicles — which also includes the EZ-Go robot taxi — with a self-driving luxury limo.Read Article >
Photos scarcely do justice to the scale of the EZ-Ultimo. This thing is better compared in size to yachts than any sort of regular car. Fans of ultra opulent concept cars will recognize an affinity between Renault’s Ultimo and Rolls-Royce’s Vision 100 car, Aston Martin’s Lagonda, and, to a lesser extent, Volvo’s recent 360c concept. All of these fully autonomous vehicles have unconventional doors that slide, lift, or swing open in dramatic style. They’re about a sense of occasion and celebration and other such things that really rich people think about.
Oct 2, 2018
The annual parade of the world’s biggest auto shows is about to start this week in Paris, and for what really feels like the first time, a number of carmakers are finalizing, building, selling, or even nearing the delivery of their first flagship electric cars. And these aren’t just concepts, or camouflaged pre-production cars like we’ve seen in the past. EVs from big-name luxury brands like Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW are on the way, meaning incumbents in the space, like Tesla, will soon have lots of direct competition.Read Article >
But only a few models will approach the more affordable mid-$30,000 starting price set by GM’s Bolt. That means many of the fully electric vehicles scheduled to hit the US market in the next few years will start at or comfortably exceed the average sale price of a car in the country. The electric car may finally be here, but it’s still not going to be for everyone.
Oct 2, 2018
One of the premières mondiales of this year’s Paris Motor Show is today’s unveiling of the Smart Forease all-electric concept car. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Smart brand, this concept is intended to convey a more fun and whimsical design for electric urban mobility, but I find it comes across as cutesy rather than cute.Read Article >
Before arriving at the Forease, I checked out Smart’s existing EQ Fortwo coupe, which has that characteristically boxy Smart car shape, a basic interior, and a price that dips as low as $15,000 in places like California where electric vehicle subsidies incentivize its purchase. The Fortwo is, in a lot of ways, the most likely future of electric mobility that the majority of us will experience. It’s utilitarian, but it has a sportier convertible option too. The Forease, on the other hand, comes without a roof. No roof at all.