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Audi AIcon concept demonstrated the company's proposal for stylish SAE Level 5 autonomy, as well as high-speed 800-volt recharging (image: Audi).

Voltage spike at 2017 Frankfurt auto show

Judging by the wares on display at September’s 2017 Frankfurt auto show, electrification suddenly is the watchword in Germany—or the watchword, at least, for some indeterminate date in the future. Because none attending the show could escape the irony that while nearly every major German manufacturer’s Frankfurt effort centered on an electric vehicle, many of the show’s current or near-future production models remained resolutely diesel-powered.

Audi’s AIcon (combining “artificial intelligence” and “concept”) was the company’s vision of SAE Level 5 autonomy—it has no steering wheel or pedals. The EV architecture permits generous interior space for four passengers, Audi said, as did the concept car’s 136.6-in (3470-mm) wheelbase and 82.6-in (2098-mm) width. Audi said projected power from the solid-state batteries (another buzz technology cropping up at Frankfurt) is 260 kW (248 hp) and 405 lb·ft (549 N·m) dispersed to an electric motor driving each wheel. The German makers also were touting new 800-volt charging technology and Audi said using such a system would deliver 80% of the AIcon’s 400 mi-plus driving range in just 30 minutes.

Over at Mercedes-Benz, the Concept EQA is a preview of the next-generation A-class compact car—at least on the styling front. The 3-door hatchback’s driveline, meanwhile, was comprised of a 60 kWh battery pack to send 268 hp and 368 lb·ft (499 N·m) to an electric motor at each axle. Mercedes said the car is capable of a 0-60 mph (0-97 km/h) time of 5 sec. Range was claimed at 400 km (248 mi) and the car also demonstrated inductive charging.

Volkswagen’s ID Crozz II is a near-production EV crossover with approximately 300 hp distributed via single electric motors at each axle. The company claimed the Crozz’s 150 kWh battery pack will be good for a maximum driving range of 500 km (311 mi) when it goes into production in 2020. Another compact crossover, the T-Roc, has been shown in various forms for some time now amd sits on the wide-ranging MQB architecture. T-Roc incorporates not a hint of electrification, with VW listing three available gasoline and three diesel engine choices.

AT BMW, the EV future came in the form of the i Vision Dynamics, another beloved 4-door coupe. The concept apparently is intended largely for styling proposal, as BMW provided almost no technical detail, saying only that the car could accelerate to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4 sec and has a range of 373 mi (600 km).

Although the Frankfurt show remains distinctly a Germany-focused affair, any discussion of the 2017 event must include a mention of Honda’s pesky Urban EV Concept, a near-production EV the company said is coming to Europe in 2019 and a model named by many as the hit of the show. The concept hatchback is based on an all-new, dedicated EV platform, although it will remain to be seen whether a production model will be proportioned on the truncated 153-in (3895-mm) overall length of the Urban EV Concept—and it’s a certainty a production version will not feature the concept’s bizarre interior that included a dash-wide viewscreen, shag carpeting and door-mounted screens to display various information that includes the view from the sideview cameras that replace door mirrors.

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