The Munich motor show is on again and Europe’s biggest carmakers are taking the chance to debut all the latest electric vehicle designs, with some surprising developments.
With governments across Europe moving to ban sales of internal combustion engines by 2030, manufacturers are racing to bring out a range of affordable zero-emissions cars to avoid being left behind.
Yet as prices come down and technology improves, the spectacle is a sombre one for Australians, given how unlikely it is that many of these cars will find their way on to the country’s roads anytime soon.
Industry figures like Volkswagen Group Australia’s managing director Michal Bartsch have long warned Australia is fast becoming a “dumping ground in terms of automotive technology” thanks to an uneven patchwork of regulation and a lack of federal leadership.
So with carmakers busy elsewhere, here is a list of the latest EV models Australia won’t be seeing anytime soon.
The Renault 5 has a long and storied history. When it first launched in 1972, the “small Frenchman” – a front-wheel drive hatchback supermini – became an instant hit and took its place as the bestselling car in France between 1972 and 1986. By 1980 it was one of the most popular cars in the world.
While Renault headlined its Munich launch with the electric Megane E-Tech, the highlight was the announcement that it will be bringing back the stylish 5 design with an updated EV version.
The concept is expected to enter production in 2022 with a 52kWh battery offering a 400km driving range. There will also be a cheaper option with a 40kWh battery – but don’t be expecting it in Australia in the near future. Last year the company pulled the Zoe Renault from Australia after what it described as a “policy failure” by the government on electric vehicles.
Volkswagen are looking to move into the affordable end of the market with their concept design for the ID life, a small crossover urban SUV that is expected to enter production in 2025.
The headline, however, was the lower asking price. When it goes on sale in Europe, it will come with a price tag in the range of $30,000 – significantly cheaper than all new EVs in Australia right now.
Designed as an urban run-about, the 231-horsepower, single electric motor is expected to come with a 57kWh battery. The front-wheel drive will have a range of about 400km between charges.
Smart Concept #1
Smart had a rough time in Australia, a country where environmental and geographic conditions have bred a taste for larger, louder, more physical vehicles.
Although it did well in Europe, Smart’s tiny and cute – but expensive – “microcar” officially quit Australia in 2015. In Munich, however, the company offered up their design for a new generation of EVs: a five-door urban SUV that would not look out of place on Australian roads.
Due to begin production next year, Concept #1 is a sleek SUV that will come in single motor rear-drive and dual motor all-wheel-drive – though the company currently has no plans to dip their toe back into the Australian market.
Mercedes announced five new EV models this year but perhaps the most interesting is the way the company has reimagined the E-Class for the electric era.
The EQE will enter production in 2022 and will become the second model to be built on the company’s purpose-built EV platform.
Two offerings will be sold at launch, although Mercedes has only provided information on one of them – the EQE 350, which comes with a 215kW engine, and a 90kWh battery with a range of 660km.
For those who want to roll in style – but sustainably – the Mercedes EQS is the company’s pitch for how ultra-prestige luxury vehicles will look when they make the transition to zero emissions.
Currently the EQS is only a concept, but production is expected to start next year with the SUV limousine sporting a massive grille, 24-inch alloy wheels and automatic doors that sense the driver’s approach. It is expected to have a range in the region of 600km and a super-fast 200kW charging capacity.