Today the 83rd edition of the Geneva motor show closed its doors. Time to make up the balance sheet, what we have seen and what has been written about. What were the trends to distinguish there, when it comes to electric vehicles?
The article by Andreas Cremer and Laurence Frost published on Reuters, sums it up best in my opinion. In brief, their article describes that until this show, car manufacturers seem quite unanimous, that electric is the first step to reduce the use of fossil fuels and achieve CO2 reduction targets.
However, the slow uptake of the sales of electric cars makes them go back to the drawing board in the hunt for other fuel-saving technologies. The slow uptake of EVs applies internationally, but also the latest sales figures in The Netherlands show the same trend . The country is still a front-running market, when it comes to the adaption of EVs, with almost 9000 vehicles in operation. The numbers equals 0,1% the Dutch car fleet. The graph (source: Agentschap NL) shows the sales figures of EVs in the Netherlands per month. Rather than an uptake, the sales in February seem to slow down.
Some car makers seem to start rethinking the options for CO2 reduction. Here are some examples of the alternatives to full electric EVs as they were shown in Geneva.
Volkswagen presented its diesel-electric XL1. It has a two-cylinder diesel motor connected to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, while the 20 kW (27 hp) electric motor is fed by a lithium-ion battery. The combination of diesel and EV-technology was some years ago not seen as a logic combination. Volkswagen proves that it makes sense, because the XL1 uses less than 1 liter of petrol per 100 km. Many reports speculate that this engine will become available in the Volkswagen Up.
Peugeot for instance focuses on hybrid vehicles and did not bring any concepts for an EV or plug in electric vehicle. As a next step they presented a hybrid air system, developed with German supplier Robert Bosch, which will use a separate hydraulic motor driven by nitrogen compressed by energy recovered from braking.
Peugeot’s new 2008 with an alternative to EV technology – hybrid air. Picture of a model of the technology.
More pictures of the system.
Nissan’s European Executive Vice President Andy Palmer boasted in the brands press conference about their achievement of 50.000 Nissan Leaf EVs sold worldwide. Despite their investment of billions in EVs and confidence of the the future, their new sales flagship, the Nissan Note, will not be offered with an alternative to fossil fuels. Nissan also showed the Resonance, a concept for the successor of the Murano. No other details about the power plant were revealed than that it could be a “regular” hybrid.
Has the development of EV technology come to a standstill ? No! There was still a lot of EV news. The BMW i3 ready for production, the Audi A3 e-tron concept, the European premiere of the Chevrolet Spark EV and the Cadillac ELR, the Volkswagen Volkswagen eCo Motion Concept and … however Fiat stills denies any plans to bring its 500e to Europe, they showed it prominently in Geneva.
Nevertheless the hope for plug-in hybrid technology might be in a different corner. Geneva is by tradition the home of the supercars. And supercar brands Lamborghini, Ferrari and McLaren all presented new models with out of this world specifications.
The astonishing McLaren P1 utilizes a petrol-electric powertrain. It has a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine, coupled to a single electric motor. Combined power output is 916 hp. In this setup the electric motor’s role is to provide instant torque, making the powertrain responsive. It is obviously also more efficient than a conventional engine with larger displacement. It can cover 10 km in electric-only mode.
So, EV / PHEV technology might not pick up as fast as expected as the means for car makers to achieve their CO2 reduction targets, it certainly can get a second life as THE technology to construct sporty cars with exhilarating driving characteristics. The McLaren P1 will remain an exotic because of its price and the limited production. But …let’s see if this type of the application of EV technology will drill down to smaller, less exotic and more affordable cars with a sporty accent.