The Electric Cars at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show: What To Expect

By · September 05, 2017

MINI Electric Concept

The new season of international auto shows kicks off in Frankfurt next week. While big industry car shows are often more about sending a message than revealing actual production plans, the Frankfurt event looks promising for EV fans. There will be a few unveilings of refreshed electric car models offering new designs and features—as well as pre-production vehicles showing progress toward market introduction in the next couple of years. And of course, we can expect a few helpings of eye-candy in the form of way-out fantastical electric concepts with advanced autonomous features.

One of the most anticipated EVs expected soon is an all-electric MINI, set to go on sale in 2019. BMW last week got a head start on the Frankfurt competition when it revealed images of its MINI Electric Concept. It’s too early for technical details—most notably the MINI’s driving range. What will be put on display in Frankfurt is more of a design study to build excitement.

The hexagonal front grille of the MINI Electric Concept, a two-door hardtop coupe, has only a narrow slit to improve aerodynamics. The paintwork utilizes a “reflection silver” with a faded white-yellow theme on the roof. The allow wheels are asymmetrical and the rear LED tail lights each form half of a Union Jack. The front body panels are adorned with a large “E” on both sides—to broadcast that it’s an electric car.

Meanwhile, BMW will give us a first in-person glimpse of the new more powerful version of the i3, which now takes on the name “i3s,” adding an “s” to convey a sportier approach. Horsepower jumps from 170 to 184 ponies, with a similar bump in torque. There’s a sports suspension along with a 10mm drop in ride height. The new i3s gets a few styling updates, such as chunkier air inlets and fender flares, as well as wider 20-inch alloy wheels. The i3s will go on sale later this year.

In Frankfurt, BMW will also unveil the i8 Roadster, a soft-top version of the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar.

Mercedes-Benz previously unveiled the Generation EQ electric SUV. In Frankfurt next week, the company will show off a compact hatchback.

Mercedes-Benz has been making big EV promises for years but has only so far shown one model from its “EQ” lineup of EVs that could include up to 10 vehicles in all segments. The Generation EQ all-electric SUV was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2016. Now in Frankfurt, we should see what the EQ line-up will offer for a compact hatchback. The production version, possibly to use the name “EQA” could arrive in 2020 as competition to the BMW i3. The range for the EQA is rumored to be close to 300 miles.

The futuristic and funky NeuV (New Electric Urban Vehicle) concept, shown in January at CES, gives clues to the EV concept Honda will unveil in Frankfurt next week.

Honda is also teasing a compact EV in Frankfurt. We don’t yet have many details about the car but its name—Urban EV concept—suggests that it will be a car primarily intended for city use. It will be targeted for the European market. Even less attainable will be Renault’s Symbioz, a three-door autonomous EV featuring an extremely short rear overhang—and Daimler’s vision EQ fortwo, a fully autonomous concept that lacks a steering wheel. Both are visions for electric transportation around 2030.

For a more immediate option, current car shoppers can look in Frankfurt to the unveiling of the production version of the Jaguar I-Pace, the brand's first electric vehicle.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.