The Geneva Motor Show 2019 has been a great show for electric vehicles. Having travelled out to Switzerland for the first press day, we’ve rounded-up the best plug-in models, from compact urban cars to luxurious grand tourers.
In a surprise launch at Geneva, Alfa Romeo presented a new concept that is likely to go into production within the next few years. The stylish plug-in hybrid compact SUV leads a number of new PHEV models from the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group, as FCA starts ambitious plans to launch a large number of electric models in the coming few years.
Audi’s big launch was the Q4 e-tron, a compact crossover that will join the burgeoning all-electric e-tron brand in production form in 2020. A range of 279 miles is expected from the EV, which was joined on stage by the e-tron Sportback and Audi Sport-developed e-tron GT.
In fact, during the press days, Audi was only showcasing plug-in vehicles, with four new PHEVs on display alongside the above three e-tron models, and the new e-tron SUV.
Although one of the leading forces in electric models, BMW’s Geneva Motor Show was a relatively quiet one. Despite this, the German brand did launch a plug-in hybrid version of its popular X3 SUV, alongside new longer-range models in its 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, and X5 – which perhaps says much about where it currently stands.
Launching five new PHEVs in core model types would usually stir up big headlines for many manufacturers, but BMW is ahead of many other brands, so it didn’t create many headlines.
Citroen’s main draw to its stand was the funky little Ami One, a concept looking at urban mobility. Drawing on a number of themes developed in past cars such as the 2CV, the Ami One is technically a quadricycle, is pure-electric, can be hired for a few minutes or owned for years, and has innovative parts that have been designed largely to be symmetrical for ease of manufacturer.
Seat’s performance brand had a sizeable amount of space, with the new Formentor SUV concept set to become the company’s first standalone model. A plug-in hybrid powertrain will allow for a range of more than 30 miles on electric mode only, while performance is set to be sprightly with a combined 242bhp available.
Like Alfa Romeo above, Fiat did things ‘properly’ at Geneva, keeping a model back that hadn’t been teased, previewed, or launched before the covers were pulled back at the show. The resulting model under said wraps was the Centoveni, a new all-electric concept that marks Fiat’s 120th anniversary this year – and looks set to form the basis of the next generation Panda.
An innovative modular battery system means that drivers can specify a range of between 62 and 310 miles, and personalisation options galore should see potential production versions be unique to each buyer.
Reviving a great name from the past, Hispano Suiza launched the Carmen at Geneva, a luxurious grand tourer with styling cues from its 20’s & 30’s heyday and an all-electric powertrain. Exclusivity is guaranteed with only 19 being built, with a sub-three second 0-62mph time and 250+ mile range.
The Japanese giant’s stand was dominated by its E Prototype, which is practically signed off as the production model due to be launched later this year, and to hit UK roads in early 2020. Designed for shorter trips, a range of more than 125 miles isn’t going to compete with the likes of Hyundai and Kia, but it isn’t intended to. Honda is pitching its forthcoming electric model as a leader in its range, so expectations are high.
Kia’s stand was only showcasing electrified models, including the updated Niro range with new e-Niro EV. However, the main floor space was shared between the new Soul EV and the Imagine concept, the latter receiving its world debut. Although a concept, Kia is looking to put a number of styling elements into its future models, and looks set to continue its work as one of the new leading electric car manufacturers in the world.
Like neighbour BMW, Mercedes had a relatively quiet show from a green car perspective, though a concept version of its new V Class was launched in electric form. The EQV is set to join the all-electric EQ Mercedes brand potentially next year, and the concept boasts a 100 kWh battery for a range of 250 miles on a single charge, and looks set to share the EQC’s 110 kW rapid charging capabilities.
The Japanese manufacturer’s love affair with plug-in hybrid SUVs continues with the Engelberg Tourer concept, giving a hint as to what the next generation Outlander PHEV could look like and how it will be powered. A 43 mile electric only range is offered, and will combine with bi-directional charging, for owners to make the use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging.
Nissan’s main show car was the IMq concept, which previews what the next version of the best-selling Qashqai will look like. The styling will likely be toned down for the production crossover, but the e-Power powertrain will remain – a non-plug-in range extended EV system.
The French firm had a very good Geneva, with the main model on display being the new 208 supermini, which will also be available as an e-206 EV. The mass market hatch will have a range of 211 miles from a 50 kWh battery. The e-208 was joined by a Peugeot Sport engineered 508 PHEV that will go into production, the conventional 508 fastback and Sportwagon PHEV ranges due later this year, and a model that I really hope the Peugeot bosses decide to build – the sensational e-Legend.
An all-electric GT car from new start-up Piech was launched at Geneva, with the Mark Zero claiming a range of more than 300 miles, ultra-rapid charging, and modular architecture. Although a new company, the name comes from Ferdinand Piech, who is part of the Porsche dynasty and former head of VW.
The Italian styling house behind a huge number of famous past designs is getting back into the business of making cars, and starts out with an all-electric hypercar – the Battista. Capable of covering 280 miles on a charge thanks to a 120 kWh battery, it will complete the 0-62mph sprint in less than two seconds thanks to 1,900 hp and 2,300 Nm of torque.
Although Volvo wasn’t at the show, the Swedish manufacturer was represented (sort of) by its performance brand Polestar – and they did a cracking job too. The Polestar 2 got its motor show debut at Geneva, with the crossover fastback boasting a range of 311 miles thanks to a 78 kWh battery.
Seat’s stand featured two models, both pure-electric. The Minimo is a tiny EV quadricycle that essentially updates the Renault Twizy, and aimed at urban travellers. The second – the el-Born – is far more interesting, as it’s set to be Seat’s first all-electric model, and sits on the same platform as the forthcoming VW ID. electric range.
A range of 260 miles is available from the 62 kWh battery, that can be rapid charged at up to 100 kW. If the VW ID. is comparable to the Golf, the production of the el-Born is essentially an all-electric Leon.
Another VW Group electric concept set to go into production in a toned-down design in the near future (see Seat el-Born above), the Vision iV is a coupe-SUV that could do for Skoda what its Superb already does against the likes of Jaguar, Mercedes, and Audi – think a more affordable I-Pace, e-tron, or EQC.
An 83 kWh battery allows for a range of more than 300 miles on a charge, and it also sees 100 kW rapid charging capabilities, plus a sub-six second 0-62mph time.
VW’s show star was the ID. Buggy which uses classic 60’s beach buggy themes on the company’s electric MEB platform, to show what can be done with it. Although a concept, VW is exploring what can be done with the architecture, and we could well see small-volume EVs similar to the ID. Buggy launched in the future.
The German giant is already bringing back the ‘Samba Bus’ with its ID. Buzz after all, so it’s clearly not averse to looking at its heritage for new electric vehicles.
Despite a large number of important new models, and some great show stoppers on display from Fiat to Bugatti, there were a few notable absentees. Those most conspicuous by their absence were Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Vauxhall, and Volvo – though the latter was represented by Polestar to a degree.
Vauxhall’s parent company – the PSA Group – did have stands for brands Citroen and Peugeot, but Vauxhall/Opel didn’t show up, though neither did DS Automobiles.
Jaguar was perhaps the most missed manufacturer, since on the eve of the show, its I-Pace was awarded the prestigious Car of the Year 2019 award, in a close run thing with the Alpine A110 – points were tied, and it went down to count-back. Design director Ian Callum was on hand to pick up the latest award for the I-Pace, but there were none on display for the rest of the show.