With sales slipping to two-decade lows in recent months, the European automotive market has come unplugged – which may be why brands as diverse as BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche are hoping to charge things up with the many hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles making their debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week.
Manufacturers see a number of potential benefits from electric propulsion, especially in a market where regular unleaded gasoline is going for the equivalent of more than $9 a gallon in some market. The technology also will prove critical if makers hope to meet Europe’s increasingly stringent restrictions on CO2 emissions – a particularly tough challenge for high-line manufacturer like Mercedes-Benz, which will introduce a new plug-in version of its big S-Class sedan at the Frankfurt show.
The range of new battery-based offerings will be “all over the map,” suggested Stephanie Brinley, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive – from the little Volkswagen e-Golf to the plug-in diesel hybrid being introduced by Land Rover for its flagship Range Rover SUV. (more…)