Steve Cropley rounds up the big stories from the year's biggest motor show; plus video, pictures and full recap
11 September 2019

Welcome to Autocar’s extended coverage of the Frankfurt motor show, one of Europe’s major motoring events and the place to see an extensive list of new cars make their debut.

Traditionally the world’s largest motor show, Frankfurt sees the automotive industry descend on the city every two years to see new metal for the first time. This year was no exception, with the show featuring game-changing unveilings from, Volkswagen, Land Rover and more. 

Electric cars are big news at this year’s show, with the Volkswagen ID 3 having made its global debut, along with the Honda E, Porsche Taycan, Peugeot e-2008 and more all making an appearance.

That said, there was still quite a crowd gathered around the conventionally fuelled new cars - especially the reborn Land Rover Defender. We were on site in Frankfurt to bring you every single reveal, with our live blog and coverage on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channels.

Frankfurt motor show 2019: Steve Cropley's show report

The good Frankfurt motor show news is that, despite the non-participation of around one-third of Europe’s car-selling marques this year, the event was still a big success. Threatened anti-car protests inside the show halls failed to materialise, and several of the major debuts were truly momentous. 

The bad news is that visiting the remaining exhibitors required the application of as much shoe-leather as ever: the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung remains famous for positioning marques that should logically to be neighbours half a mile apart.

However, it was the history-making nature of this year’s exhibits that stood out. The debut of the new Land Rover Defender was important in two ways: first because it presented a renewed version of a revered model; second because for all the talk of hybridisation, the Defender’s mostly combustion propulsion suddenly seemed rather strange and different against the sophisticated electrification on offer everywhere else. 

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Not that the Defender’s debut lacked passion and enthusiasm: there was plenty of both. People cheered and whooped as different models were successively unveiled. The voice of JLR boss Ralf Speth – correctly but unusually labelled ‘Sir Ralf Speth’ for this special occasion – cracked a little as he described how he’d been the one who killed the old Defender four years ago, and what a pleasure it was “to give the new Defender back”. 

After all the controversy over various Defender concepts on the journey to production, there seemed an almost uniform appreciation among Frankfurt attendees for the aptness of the new Defender’s concept and styling, surely a relief to all JLR insiders. It was perfectly clear how much trouble the design and engineering teams had taken over this vital new entry.

Much the same enthusiasm greeted the pretty electric hatch that begins the third age of Volkswagen, the ID 3. After all the publicity, and taking into account that we’ve become used over the years to VW’s calm, classical approach to styling, the car’s actual look was hardly a surprise. But it was still awe-inspiring actually to see our mainstream motoring future in three dimensions. Suddenly VW’s much-ballyhooed electrification gamble doesn’t look like a gamble at all.

The quality of the exhibits continued. BMW showed its future thinking with the Concept 4 Series, which will be the basis of both the conventional new 4 Series coupé and the new all-electric i4. The latter will thus be entirely different in concept from the i3, which was so separate, special (and eye-wateringly expensive to make).

Flexible platforms like the future i4’s may not promote optimised electric car packaging but they’re clearly proving to be the way to go in this transition-to-electrification age. Opel-Vauxhall, the only PSA marque to make it to Geneva, also made this point powerfully with its pretty new B-segment Corsa and e-Corsa, whose proportions and styling are identical.

PSA group boss Carlos Tavares spelled out what is many car makers’ new attitude to motor shows: in future, his brands won’t go unless they have a specific model or purpose. He also pointed out (in a very crowded press room) that this year’s show stand cost around one-third of what the group paid for its displays two years ago…

Happily, Brexit discussions hardly played a part at Frankfurt – and to the extent that it did, there was optimism. Vauxhall boss Stephen Norman, who has begun to revive his company’s fortunes and promises to position it as “a strong second in Britain, not a third or a fourth”, even reckoned Vauxhall might pick up half a percent of market share after a hard Brexit, on the strength of its position as a ‘British brand since 1903’.   

Tavares declared that his UK focus remained on successful preservation of car and van manufacturing at Luton and Ellesmere Port, and that he was optimistic because internal progress was encouraging. But he also declared forthrightly that as a hard Brexit moved into view, citizens of every country likely to be affected should rise up and tell legislators that a no-deal solution simply wasn’t acceptable. 

“Setting two express trains running towards one another at full speed – so each side can prove its strength – makes no sense at all,” was how he put it. If there were a serious union dispute in one of his factories, he reminded the audience, politicians would be the first to urge him to find a solution. Following the sad demise of FCA’s Sergio Marchionne, Tavares is now the predominant car industry voice in Europe, and he proved it again here.

STEVE CROPLEY                  

Frankfurt motor show 2019: as it happened

17:00 Tuesday 10th September

As our reporters in Frankfurt head for the Messe exits, it's almost time to wrap up a hectic day at one of the world's biggest motor shows. The star of the day was undoubtedly the reborn Land Rover Defender, which drew massive crowds at the show and real debate on our social media channels. Electrification was a major topic, with the VW ID 3 having made its debut yesterday and Mercedes introducing its vision for an electric S-Class with the Vision EQS. The enlarged front grille on BMW's Concept 4 courted controversy, while Audi's AI:Trail concept was decidedly more out there.

We also got some invaluable face-to-face interview time with some of the biggest names in the motoring industry. Jaguar’s new design boss told us the brand is committed to making saloons, PSA CEO Carlos Tavares talked the dangers of Brexit, and Renault boss Thierry Bollore talked up the possibility of resurrecting a merger proposal with FCA.

There's plenty more news to come, so be sure to check back tomorrow for further updates, along with our full Frankfurt 2019 show report.

16:30 Tuesday 10th September

Automobili Pininfarina has shown us its new Pura Vision SUV concept in Frankfurt - yet while it didn’t take away our notebook it did take away our iPhone for pictures. Whatever the reverse of a picture is worth 1000 words is, here goes… It’s a dramatic design, extreme as a Lamborghini Urus from some angles but always with an elegance that just isn’t there in the Lambo. Perhaps a cross between a Urus and an Aston DB11 best describes it, and it’s elegant in a way most SUVs simply aren’t. Its glasshouse is also dramatic, distinct from the body, in a coke bottle shape, and with an almost entirely glass roof. We expect Automobili Pininfarina to reveal it next year.

Talks on a merger between the two motoring giants broke down in June, but Renault CEO Thierry Bollore told us the brand is hopeful a deal can still be reached to merge with FCA.

Want an I-Pace? Jaguar has the waiting list down to around three months in the UK, having secured extra stock for the home market. Some 2500 have found buyers here to date, with plenty more expected next year - the NHS has just ordered 500. Jaguar expects a big sales spike again when BIK for EVs drops to zero next April.

15:45 Tuesday 10th September

Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius has confirmed that the EQS will make production alongside the current S-Class, offering a bespoke electric alternative to the brand's traditional flagship. However, he declined to put a production date for the car forward, and conceded the concept car will have to change for production, saying: "There is further development to come on the styling of EQS, but you'll have to bear with us a bit. What I promise is that we see opportunity to develop both it and the S-Class to ensure customers have interesting choices for the future."

Car enthusiasts would no doubt love to see a Honda E Type R but project leader Hitomi-San says the brand want the E to represent something different for its brand, where aspiration will be technology opposed to pure performance.

Comfort is something the Land Rover interior trim team took seriously in developing the new Defender. Therefore a true Defender first on Land Rover’s new 4x4 are soft armrests - never have they featured before on even the plushest of special editions of the older car.

 

15:15 Tuesday 10th September

Determined to be different, Polestar is in Frankfurt with its striking 2, but has elected to display it outside in a box. Relative to a stand in a show hall it’s small and low-cost, but you’d be hard pressed to argue it loses anything in terms of impact.

Mercedes' big Frankfurt star was the EQS, a vision of an electric S-class - but the company's performance division is also working on something battery-powered. According to CEO Ola Källenius, Mercedes-AMG is currently evaluating an ev-only sports car. If it made production, it would almost certainly be in greater numbers than the first electric AMG, the limited-run SLS Electric Drive.

BMW design boss Adrian Van Hooydonk has been referring to the brand's Touring variants as "niche products" only liked by Germany, Italy and the UK. While he said they do have a place in the lineup, it sounds like BMW's SUV success may mean its once beloved estates have a shelf life. The same goes for traditional saloon models, with the brand's increasing range of four-door coupes poaching customers away from the 3, 5 and 7.

14:45 Tuesday 10th September

The concept of flying cars, or at least drone inspired urban transport, isn't going away with a clue to Mercedes's commitment to the Volocity project hanging from the ceiling in a corner of its stand. The project - which also has funding from Chinese car maker Geely, itself a shareholder in Mercedes - is onto its fourth generation vehicle now, with the previous three having been tested and used for certification, and is set to begin testing with passengers shortly, with a goal of it being commercially available within three years.

We’ve probably seen one too many concepts or prototypes of the Honda E, but Rachel Burgess still thrilled to see how it’s maintained its cool concept looks. ‘Having a nosey inside, it does feel premium (as it will need to given the price) but look lower down and there’s still the odd bit of plastic which could be improved…”

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Ralf Speth has no plans at present to expand the tie-up with BMW beyond the development of electric drive units already confirmed. However, he said they were “always prepared to talk” to BMW or any other partner about partnerships. “It would be foolish not to, but it has to make sense. Things can have an economies of scale advantage but technical partnerships are also important.” Speth also said he was keen to see JLR remain an “independent British company” amid rumours of potential takeovers from rival car makers.

14:15 Tuesday 10th September

Hyundai has unveiled a portable charging system that will be used to power cars in next year’s ETCR racing championship. It utilises two hydrogen fuel cell stacks from the Nexo road car to generate clean electricity, generating 160kW - enough to charge two cars from empty in around 45 minutes. Hyundai’s fuel cell R&D chief Dr Yu Seung Kim is pictured with the system, that is also being evaluated for other uses in areas with poor access to the grid, such as remote farms.

Porsche Vice President in charge of 718 and 911 models, Frank Steffen-Walliser, makes some frank statements on research when the discussion turns to the complexity of petrol particulate filters. "the governments have now learned the more pressure they put on the more the industry moves. But it's tough. You have a lot of NGOs and universities that make one-offs and tell politicians it's possible, but we are talking about industrial production - it means 10,000 particulate filters a day, not one in a university."

Here’s a sign of a growing trend for merchandising in automotive: an entire Audi shop on its stand. Car companies and retailers are tapping ever-further into the fact there’s good money to be made from sales of branded goods, as well as great opportunities to move brands upmarket and into new areas beyond being known just for flogging cars. In an era where car companies are trying to stress the authenticity and kudos their legacy gives them, growing a fan base is all important. Audi expects big sales come the public days of the show.

13:15 Tuesday 10th September

Honda E has lots of very cool technology and in a great design package, but does it feature any industry firsts? Connectivity boss Mirai Aki said while no individual feature might be a first, collectively it is. “Everybody has it all but nobody has managed to put everything together like we have.”

Mercedes is set to open its new design centre in Nice, France this week. Described by design chief Gorden Wagener as looking like somewhere a Bond baddie would put his team, he says the key strength will be that it allows all his teams - including digital UX experts - to work in the same space. ‘Today interior design starts with the operating system and  we design from there to compliment how people will use it,’ said Wagener, ‘it’s one of the biggest shifts from ten years ago.’ He also revealed that the firm had looked at establishing the centre in London, but property prices proved to be too expensive.

Look familiar? This was once the PB18, shown at Pebble Beach last year, but is now renamed AI:Race to fall in line with a set of Audi concepts all designed to envision a world where you only use a car for its purpose, in this case, race-track fun.

12:30 Tuesday 10th September

Editor Mark Tisshaw has just returned from a chat with new Jaguar design director Julian Thomson, who has replaced the recently retired Ian Callum. Thomson is no newcomer - he has been at JLR for 20 years, most recently running the advance design centre that creates cars in an early conceptual way. In other words, he’s overseen the birth of all of JLR’s recent models. Would he like to do a concept car of his own? “I’d love to do one, a real flight of fancy. It’s a great thing to do and if pitched right, people expect a production car - which can be a good thing...”

There's a fine line between 'distinctive' and just plain messy, and news editor Lawrence Allan think the mad, limited-run Lamborghini Sian just threads it. The 808bhp V12 hybrid underpinnings are more relevant than the styling, though - the belief is that this powertrain will make its way to the next Aventador to kick start Lambo's rather more flamboyant electrified era.

“Normally when someone walks in on your one-on-one interview they are shuffled politely away swiftly,” says Jim Holder. “Not so just now at VW, but with good reason given the interloper was Wolfgang Porsche, youngest son of Ferdinand Porsche, chairman of the supervisory board of Porsche AUtomobil Holding AG.” In other words, the biggest of big bosses. He’d popped in to congratulate VW COO Ralf Brandslatter on the successful brand and ID 3 relaunch. Make no mistake, VW knows the scale of the steps it is announcing here, four years on from Dieselgate.

12:00 Tuesday 10th September

Every single wheel and tyre design can be accommodated within the new Land Rover Defender’s spare wheel holder housed on the tailgate. That wheel cover alone design went through 50-60 different iterations to get it right. Wheels of 18in, 20in, and 22in, the former as a steel or alloy and the latter pair as alloys, share a common 815mm diameter. Three different tyre choices are offered: all season, all terrain, and an extreme Goodyear off-road tyre.

Mini will add more electric models to its line-up, but not in this generation, according to brand boss Bernd Korber. The likes of an electric five door and Cabriolet will have to wait.

Elsewhere, the rear seats of this BMW concept are trimmed in what looks like some faded old beach towels at first glance. Probably not the look they were going for...

 

 

11:45 Tuesday 10th September

With BMW's M Division refusing to build a performance version of the 3 Series Touring, Alpina has stepped in to fill the void. The B3 BiTurbo Touring builds on BMW's estate with a reworked powertrain, upgraded suspension and redesigned exterior.

Despite not offering any electric variants of its existing car line-up, Renault future product planning boss says the maker will consider such a move on a case by case basis. First up, there will be an electric variant of the Twingo, already engineered to factor in a battery pack. Plus, given its city car status, it will get away with offering a relatively low range - probably about 100 miles.

It was heavily disguised, sealed in a perspex box and lit with dramatic strobe lighting, but beneath the camo VW gave us an early glimpse at the ID 4 - a Tiguan-sized electric SUV that is set to become one of the first ID models to go on sale in the USA. 

11:15 Tuesday 10th September

It took just 15 minutes after its reveal for Land Rover to sell a new Defender through its online car selling service. The model was a 110, and in the top spec X trim. A further four were ordered within the next 90 minutes - Land Rover has to date sold about five cars a week on the newly launched (and as yet unpublicised) service. Land Rover’s UK web traffic jumped from around 300 users to 4000 shortly after the reveal, and to date has 17,000 expressions of interests and is taking around four enquires per minute to retailers.

Hyundai's stepped into the world of electric touring cars with the Veloster N ETCR, which is set to use a mid-mounted electric powertrain to send an unconfirmed 670bhp to the rear wheels.

VW was taking no chances given the threat of protesters disrupting its press conference in Frankfurt, with a ring of burly security guards set 20 metres from the stage giving anyone who dares to love within range the evils. It worked: despite the presence of Greenpeace protesters outside the show, the conference passed without incident.

11:00 Tuesday 10th September

Chinese EV startup Byton used Frankfurt to reveal the production version of its M-Byte SUV. The Tesla Model Y rival is expected to go on sale globally in 2021, with prices starting from around £40,000.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi-Daimler-Mercedes partnership remains alive and well, according to Mercedes CEO Ola Kallenius, despite his decision to switch the Smart brand strategy away from a partnership with the Renault-developed Twingo to a shared ownership strategy - including in time a new platform - with Geely. "The Alliance remains in place and we continue to work on several powertrain and other projects," said Kallenius. "What we have always agreed is that we will work together in win-win situations, and we will carry on doing that." Kallenius did not identify any potential future projects, however.

While the Defender may have stolen much of JLR's press conference limelight, Jaguar managed to tantalise us with a glimpse of the forthcoming XJ. The electric-only saloon is expected to debut in next year.

10:45 Tuesday 10th September

Last minute tinkering over on VW. Nothing unusual in that given the scale of these productions, and the fact many of the cars arrive at the last-minute, but strangely given it hasn’t got to go anywhere there’s definitely a few furrowed brows under this ID buggy concept’s bonnet.

How are sales going for the Pininfarina Battista? Well in North America, not as well in Europe. Volume is split around 80/20 in the two markets it has so far revealed it in, with a global tour now about to begin. In the US, pre-orders doubled after the car’s Pebble Beach reveal, with the model finding as much favour among tech entrepreneurs as the opposite has been among traditional hypercard buyers in Europe. To counter that, Automobili Pininfarina will be demonstrating the car’s performance to potential buyers next year to show what its potential is, as there is still a limited understanding among hypercar buyers about just why electric cars can be so desirable, the firm reckons.

As for its development, it has gone through all crash testing and hit all global legislation standards, with wind and aerodynamic work also nearly complete. The first mules are now being built to refine and validate the simulator tests and deliveries are on track for later next year still, with the 150 unit production run aiming to be sold by the end of 2020.

10:15 Tuesday 10th September

Does the arrival of the ID 3 mark the start of Volkswagen's 'friendlier, people-focused' era? News Editor Lawrence Allan argues the case for the manufacturer, which revealed a new look logo to go along with its new electrified outlook.

You won’t create a good car unless you’ve had fun making it, so says Jaguar Land Rover engineering boss Nick Rogers. Good job his team enjoyed making the new Defender, then. “If you see a Defender being driven, you always see a smile on the driver’s face,” he said. “In any car, you can feel if the designers and engineers have hd fun making it.

Meanwhile, we're asking you to get involved over on the Autocar Twitter feed. Let us know if you're a fan of the new Land Rover Defender's looks below:

10:00 Tuesday 10th September

The best gimmick on the outlandish Audi AI:Trail, the fourth of four concepts intended for a world where you only use a vehicle for the purpose which it is intended? The roof structure which is actually a new take on headlights. The drone can fly ahead and light up the way as desired.

Ten years ago, the world was a different place and one in which no Chinese car companies would have held similar stand space at European motor shows to makers such as Ford and Honda. Now, brands such as Wey and Byton have serious launch plans in Europe. For now, it’s hard to imagine them making significant gains, but given the right product and price, anything is possible…

Fair play to Seat too for putting a, shall we say artisan, caravan serving coffee behind its Mii electric show car. What better way to get people to spend a minute looking at what would otherwise be a footnote to the stand’s displays. The spirit of Barcelona is alive and well, even here in Germany.

09:45 Tuesday 10th September

You have to feel for Mercedes, announcing the EQS concept at the exact same time as Land Rover pulled back the curtain on the Defender. It effectively previews an electric S Class, and will be of great importance for the brand - but excitement for a reborn 4x4 icon puts the Merc in danger of disappearing from the headlines.

Mini has taken 60,000 expressions of interest in its new Electric model, order books for which now formally open today. It’s the first time Mini has ever run a pre sales program, yet is still well ahead of where they expected to be, according to company boss Bernd Korber. Mini is in the process of having 4600 dealers and salespeople from around the world be trained at a conference in Lisbon to prepare its customers for all things electric.

Porsche, meanwhile, has decided to tackle one of the criticisms of electric motoring from petrolheads head-on in Frankfurt, plastering the tag line ‘Soul, electrified’ all over its stand and the sheets currently covering its Taycans. No word if Kia has anything to say about it, but combined with some gently thumping music and a smattering of neon lighting it gets the message - that this is the first genuinely fun electric car to drive around a corner - across, but the fact remains that we’ll only be able to determine if it’s a car with soul when we get behind the wheel. Meanwhile, you can read Andrew Frankel’s first drive impressions of a prototype here.

09:30 Tuesday 10th September

JLR’s engineering chief Nick Rogers reckons it would have been “ridiculous” to give the new Defender a body on frame design rather than a monocoque. “This monocoque is at least 10 times stronger than the average body on frame and three times stronger than the best. You’d never get the character and precision of feel; a monocoque makes the vehicle feel fun and smaller.”

Honda’s CR-V Hybrid sales are lower than predicted in the UK, simply due to supply, according to sales boss Phil Webb. It currently accounts for 55% of CR-V mix, but from next year, when supply will be ample, he predicts it will push 80%.

It may be sacrilege to say it, but Editorial Director Jim Holder says that out there in the European (or perhaps global) market there’s even more show visitors anticipating the VW ID3 than Land Rover’s Defender. "Both reveals were pretty rammed, but on the evidence of my eyes VW’s electrified mid-size hatch wins the day."

 

 

09:00 Tuesday 10th September

The biggest announcement of the show so far - and possibly of the year. Land rover has officially revealed the all-new Defender as a modernised but equally rugged follow-up to the original. We've got the full story on the car, which will launch in Defender 110 and Defender 90 bodystyles. We spoke to Land rover designer Gerry McGovern on what the Defender means to him, and why purists should be pleased. Original Defender owner Matt Prior gives his two cents on the new one, and we explain why the new car isn't an evolution of the old DC100 concept.

Finally, our walkaround video goes into the nitty gritty details of 2019's most anticipated new model:

08:45 Tuesday 10th September

The UK will be among the four biggest markets in Europe for the upcoming Honda E when it arrives on roads next summer. UK sales boss Phil Webb said there were 364 UK reservations for the E currently, and hoped by its first full year of sales in 2021, it would be “at least into four figures”. There was much excitement among Honda personnel, as some of the management seemingly got a first look at the packaging under the bonnet of the e. Despite there being no engine it’s tight under there.

Plug-in hybrid technology is coming to the next-generation Audi RS4, so says Audi Sport managing director Oliver Hoffmann. He told us the news while detailing plans for Audi Sport to double its sales in five years to 2023 to 60,000 units, with electrification being introduced on more and more models until then. You can read more on that here.

Daimler and the VW Group are again engaged in the battle of the show halls. The latter I think wins in terms of square footage, but Daimler counters with more 'ambience'. But neither seem to have gone above and beyond previous years - signifying that perhaps shows such as these have begun the downhill trend.

08:30 Tuesday 10th September

Honda has been steadily drip-feeding news on the e electric city car for what feels like years now, and Frankfurt is the last chance to grab some headlines before it arrives in dealerships early next year. Pricing is as good a way to do that as any, especially when the figure is significantly lower than earlier forecasts - with a government grant, you'll be able to secure and E from £26,150.

BMW focused on the future with its major Frankfurt reveals, showing off a hydrogen-powered version of the X5 SUV as well as a public debut for the Vision M Next concept which is widely expected to resurrect the M1 badge as an electrified supercar. The biggest, and perhaps most controversial reveal was of the Concept 4 Series, an insight into the next-generation coupé that will also influence the i4 EV. 

08:00 Tuesday 10th September

It’s just one hour until the Land Rover Defender is finally unveiled, and the crowds are gathering already in numbers. However, sister brand Jaguar has a presence at the show too - and we’re told to pay close attention to its part in the JLR press conference. But in the meantime... what could possibly under here?

Hyundai expanded its N Line warmed-up performance range this morning with the debut of the i10 N Line. It gets a three cylinder turbo 1.0-litre petrol engine, N-inspired visual upgrades and interior tweaks to help it stand out from the regular car. Will it be one to take on the VW Up GTI?

07:30 Tuesday 10th September

Seat and Cupra boss Luca de Meo, pictured in the right of this picture, is busy walking the Seat stand. Nothing remarkable in that you might think, but he’s the only car company boss visible at this early hour, and he’s going from display to display, regardless of whether it’s the dramatic Tavascan concept car or a Perspex case with Cupra branded t-shirts in, checking everything is on top-top order. In the vast VW Group show hall, no other stand has everyone stood to attention quite so alertly…

Despite all the cutbacks and absentees at this year's Frankfurt motor show, Mercedes is keeping the flag flying by taking up an entire show hall, as has become tradition. So vast is the space, in fact, that it was once housed the entire Frankfurt motor show. However, this year, there's a new twist, as Mercedes has consciously decided to put fewer cars in the space behind the main display area, instead showcasing how its showrooms of the future will look.

The emphasis is less on cramming cars in for customers to kick the tyres on, and more on creating areas to educate, excite and inspire buyers, from high-tech displays showcasing electric car tech, to games zones using F1 and Formula E simulators to a mood area, where fragranced air - using the same perfumes available in higher-end cars - is pumped out to help frame thinking. It might sound mad, but a walk through highlighted just how much car retailing is finally changing in the face of all retail changing, and how forward-thinkers like Mercedes are getting ahead in the move away from shifting metal towards creating a genuinely premium shopping experience.

07:15 Tuesday 10th September

First announcement of the morning comes from Hyundai, with the 1970’s-inspired 45 Concept. Expected to eventually enter production, the electric crossover uses strong angles and lots of LEDs to make a visual statement while the interior hints at an autonomous future.

Even before last night’s big ID 3 reveal, it was clear this year’s Frankfurt show was going to heavily feature electrification. With tough new emissions targets about to be introduced, car firms are having to push EVs and alternative powertrains like never before, argues Hilton Holloway.

Environmental protestors have pledged to picket the show for weeks now, and it appears Greenpeace are leading the way this morning at the event entrance in Frankfurt.  Further demos have been pledged throughout the day, with more disruptive protesters having hinted at picketing some of the press conferences. Kudos then to VW Group boss Herbert Diess, who went head to head with one of the protest group leaders in a live web debate on the subject, outlining why he believed a world without personal transport was unviable, how cars like the ID3 can be part of the environmental solution.

07:00 Tuesday 10th September

Welcome back to our Frankfurt coverage. The show floor officially opens this morning, and we'll be there to see all the new reveals. Overnight saw Audi announce the redesigned RS7 Sportback, which shares its 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 and 48v mild hybrid powertrain with the RS6 Avant. In the RS7, it results in a 0-62mph time of 3.6 seconds and 189mph top speed if you opt for the derestricted Dynamic Plus pack.

“The beauty and the beast” is how Audi Sport managing director Oliver Hoffmann descries the new RS6 and RS7. Which one’s which, you ask?

Anything and everything appears to be on the cards for Audi Sport as part of its expansion plans - even an RS8. “We have the S8, but there’s no decision yet on an RS8,” said Oliver Hoffmann. Nothing has been ruled out at Audi Sport for now.

21:00 Monday 9th September

With all the covers at VW's Group night now removed and all the cars on display, we're nearing the end of the first day at Frankfurt - but there's plenty more to come. Make sure to set your alarms as tomorrow morning sees new metal from BMW, Audi and Hyundai.

It's Land Rover that's almost certain to steal all the attention, though. It is set to reveal the all-new Defender at 9am BST. We'll have all the details here on the site.

20:30 Monday 9th September

News editor Lawrence Allan says he is "certainly impressed by the cabin tech of the ID 3", but thinks the material quality (traditionally a VW hallmark) doesn't seem up to Golf standards: "There's more hard plastics and plain surfaces than I expected - but maybe that's the price to pay for an EV offering of relative value. Hey, it's worked for Tesla...".

20:15 Monday 9th September

The Volkswagen ID 3 was the big star of the traditional pre-show VW Group Night, but once the new EV had its starring moment, those in attendance got to glimpse some of the other new machines from the group's various brands. They included the new Porsche Taycan, which was revealed last week but is making its public debut in Frankfurt.

Also on display was the new Audi Sport RS7, which hasn't actually been officially revealed yet. So while we can show you a picture, we can't give you full details yet (we suggest you keep an eye on autocar.co.uk for full details soon.

20:00 Monday 9th September

Hybrid and electric car customers typically need more support from retailers before they commit to a purchase, according to Mercedes-Benz’s head of sales and marketing Britta Seeger. “While many are very well informed, we take the time to identify if the car really suits their needs,” she said. “These are big changes, and it is right that customers take their time to be sure before they commit.”

Subtly changing VW's logo will be a "mammoth task" to implement, according to chief marketing officer Jochen Sengpiehl. Every dealer front, every poster and every advert across 171 countries and 10,000 dealers will need to be changed. To keep costs down and ease logistics VW has designed the logo so it can simply be swapped in for the old one in dealerships without them requiring extensive redecoration

19:30 Monday 9th September

The Volkswagen ID 3 is finally here. The first electric car off the MEB bespoke electric architecture - going so far and wide, it will now be used on a European Ford model - has an incredibly important precedent to set. VW is hoping to sell 200,000 ID 3s a year, which is a tall, tall order, when you look at the current EV market. If, and it’s a big if, VW pulls it off, it will well and truly deserve recognition for overturning the world order as we know it.

19:00 Monday 9th September

Volkswagen's Group night always preempts the motor show proper, but the brand always delivers. This year began with something a little different, though no less important than a new car: an updated logo meant to symbolise the company putting dieselgate in the past and concentrating instead on an electrified future. 

Mercedes’ reputation for safety must extend to data security if the company is to be trusted for online sales and customer interaction, according head of sales and marketing Britta Seeger. “It’s critical that we are trusted to protect the data we need from customers in order to make their purchase and ownership of our cars seamless,” she said. Mercedes Me, the umbrella portal for the firm’s digital services, has been activated by more than 4m people to date.

18:30 Monday 9th September

It might not be a new model, but Pininfarina's announcement that it was partnering with Bosch for an all-new electric powertrain has potential to shake up the premium end of the electric car market. With Croatian EV evangelists Rimac supplying electric motors to many hypercar manufacturers, including Pininfarina itself, this could mark the start of some much needed competition in the next decade.

18:30 Monday 9th September

Mercedes-Benz has set itself the target of selling 25% of its new cars online by 2025, and is looking to make the purchase process as seamless as possible in order to achieve that, according to head of sales and marketing Britta Seeger. That potentially includes reaching a position where it can set fixed prices for cars. Seeger declined to give a specific figure of how many cars the firm sells online today, saying only that it is “less than 5%”. Even in 2025, however, Mercedes data suggests at least 80% of buyers will still interact with a dealer, either to research, test or collect a new car.

15:30 Monday 9th September

As has quickly become tradition, the day before Frankfurt officially begins is now an opportunity for manufacturers to show off recently-announced cars for the first time. Mercedes was up first with a preview of its now electric-only Smart range, a series of plug-in hybrid Mercedes-Benz models and a hot AMG variant of the new GLB seven-seater SUV.

15:00 Monday 9th September

Ferrari isn’t attending Frankfurt this year in any official capacity, but that didn’t stop it from holding its own event in Maranello on the eve of the show. Two new drop-top models made their debut: the F8 Tributo Spider and 812 GTS. The former transforms Ferrari’s latest V8 supercar for open-roof driving, while the latter’s front-mounted V12 makes it the most powerful convertible in production today.

14:00 Monday 9th September

The doors may not officially open until tomorrow, but there have already been several announcements made ahead of the show - both by those attending and those staying at home. Mercedes introduced a diesel plug-in hybrid variant of the GLE family SUV, while British restomod specialist David Brown revealed a limited-run Oselli Edition Mini Remastered.

Frankfurt motor show: What’s on display

As one of the biggest motor shows of the year, there’s no shortage of new metal at Frankfurt. Our A-Z list contains every major new car reveal from the show:

Alpina

B3 Biturbo

We've still got a while to wait until BMW takes the wraps off the G20-gen M3, but tuning specialist Alpina is ready to unveil its M340i-based B3 Biturbo. Expected to make its debut in estate form, the B3 will fill the gap between the regular 3 Series and hot M3 with a 400bhp-plus 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six. 

New Alpina B3 Biturbo lands at Frankfurt show

Audi

A1 Citycarver

The more rugged, off-road-inspired version of Audi's A1 compact supermini gets 2in of additional ground clearance with the addition of larger wheels and an upgraded suspension, but is positioned as a more city-focused ‘urban crossover’ than the brand’s fully-fledged Allroad models.

New Audi A1 Citycarver: rugged supermini makes public debut

RS Q3

The wraps came off Audi's new Q3 Sportback last month, and now Audi Sport's RS-badged reworking is set to break cover at Frankfurt. The Mercedes-AMG GLB 45 rival has been driving around with minimal camouflage ahead of its arrival, and is expected to pack a 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine pumping out around 400bhp. 

Audi RS Q3 Sportback drops disguise before Frankfurt reveal

RS6

Audi Sport’s flagship wagon retains its twin-turbo 4.0-litre petrol V8 as it moves into a fourth generation for 2020, with power upgraded to 591bhp to take on the Mercedes-AMG E63 S and BMW M5. Visual differences over the standard A6 include trademark chunkier wheel arches, larger air intakes and bigger wheels.

2020 Audi RS6 Avant kickstarts new performance product offensive

RS7 Sportback

The new RS7 Sportback will be the hero car for Audi Sport’s range of performance models, sharing a 600bhp-plus V8 with the RS6. As with the outgoing variant, power will be sent to all four wheels by way of an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while an 80kg weight loss should bring subtle performance gains. 

New 2019 Audi RS7 Sportback to break 600bhp barrier

S8, SQ8 and Q7 facelift 

We’ll also get our first in-the-metal look at the S8 performance saloon, one of only two models in Audi’s S range to retain a petrol powerplant, as well as the new SQ8 hot SUV and facelifted Q7 seven-seater. 

Audi reveals hot SQ8 as new flagship SUV

BMW

Concept 4 Series

A preview of things to come from BMW's mainstream coupé model, the Concept 4 shows elements of the traditional, combustion-engined 4 Series and the electric i4. Both are expected to recieve the controversial front grille, which is perhaps even more divisive than the one seen on the 7 Series saloon and X7 SUV.

BMW previews next-gen 4 Series and i4 with bold concept​

X6

The recently revealed third-generation X6 will make its public debut in Frankfurt before it enters UK showrooms, priced from around £63,000. The coupé-style high-rider’s looks have been brought into line with the brand’s current design language, and a refreshed range of powertrain options is headed up by a 523bhp 4.4-litre petrol V8 yielding a claimed 0-62mph time of 4.3sec and a limited 155mph top speed.

New BMW X6 arrives with revamped styling and engines

Vision M Next

The Vision M concept is BMW’s idea of what a comeback for the M1 supercar of 1978 might look like. Previewing a production sports car tipped to arrive before 2025, the Vision M packs a 591bhp petrol-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain that's also destined to appear in more mainstream BMW M performance models further down the line. 

BMW M1 reborn as 591bhp two-seat plug-in hybrid

Cupra 

Tavascan

Seat’s newly hived-off performance brand Cupra showed off the Tavascan as a concept version of its first EV, which takes the form of a coupé-style SUV based on the Volkswagen Group’s universal MEB architecture. Its rakish roofline, angular front end and distinctive headlight design imply the production model will be a performance-oriented reworking of the Seat el-Born electric hatchback. 

Cupra previews first EV with emotive Tavascan concept

Honda 

E

The Honda E electric city car was first revealed in 95%-production-ready prototype guise at the Geneva motor show in March, but it's finally ready to emerge in its final form before customer deliveries begin next year. Expect little to change in the way of styling, with more than 6000 UK buyers alone having already expressed interest in buying an E. 

First drive: Honda E 2019 prototype

Hyundai 

e-TCR electic racer

Frankfurt saw the unveiling of Hyundai's first all-electric race car, which has been developed in Germany and was previewed in a series of videos posted to the firm's Twitter feed. 

The new model is based on the existing i30 N TCR and Veloster N TCR customer racers. Last year, rival firm Cupra revealed early details of the 670bhp Seat Leon-based e-Racer, to enter an upcoming electric touring car race series, which Hyundai is also set to support. 

Hyundai launches Veloster N ETCR as first electric racer

Concept 45

Hyundai has also shown off its new '45' electric concept which is claimed to "reveal the next stage of its future mobility vision". The firm says the model previews the design of future electric Hyundais and be equipped with a customisable interior.

i10

Hyundai has reinvented its i10 supermini for 2020 with a dynamic exterior overhaul and upgraded interior technology, and is already calling it the most advanced car in its segment. Rear passengers get extra legroom, while up front there's an 8.0in touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging pad and an optional rear view camera. 

2019 Hyundai i10 gets fresh looks and class-leading tech​

i30 N Project C

One new Hyundai bound to attract a crowd is the new i30 N Project C - a limited-run reworking of the i30 N hot hatch featuring race-spec alloy wheels, carbonfibre-reinforced plastic components and a suspension drop. All good news, then, apart from the fact that only 600 are being built, and none are expected to come to the UK. 

Limited-run Hyundai i30 N Project C heading to Frankfurt

Lamborghini 

Siån

Lamborghini is readying a replacement for its Aventador flagship for 2020, and has offered a preview of what's to come with the limited-run Siån hypercar. The Aventador SVJ-based machine packs 808bhp from a hybridised version of that model's V12, with power generated by an upgraded supercapacitor unit for zero-emissions parking and reversing manouvers. 

Lamborghini uncovers 808bhp Sian as first hybrid model

Land Rover 

Defender

The one everybody was waiting for. The revived Land Rover Defender made a number of high-profile public appearances since it was first seen in prototype form last year, but Frankfurt was the first time we got to see it unwrapped. It will arrive in three bodystyles, powered by a range of diesel and petrol engines. Its official unveiling brings an end to months of industry debate as to whether it will do justice to the original model’s design ethos.

New Defender: everything we know so far

Mercedes-Benz 

EQV

Mercedes previewed the EQV electric people carrier with a concept at Geneva, and the production model will make its public debut at Frankfurt. Based on the conventionally powered V-Class, the EQV offers up to eight seats, a 252-mile range and a top speed of 99mph. Underfloor-mounted batteries allow the same interior flexibility as the V-Class, meaning it can be used as a luxury six-seat VIP shuttle or an eight-seat taxi. 

Mercedes-Benz EQV is 252-mile range premium electric MPV

ESF 2019 concept

The ESF concept is the latest in Mercedes’ long line of experimental vehicles built as part of an ongoing investigation into ways of making self-driving vehicles safer. Based on a forthcoming petrol-electric variant of the GLE SUV, the partly autonomous car features a retractable steering wheel and pedal box, revitalising mood lamps, an automatic driver’s seatbelt tensioner and prominent external directional indicators.

Mercedes unveils GLE-based experimental safety vehicle

GLE Coupé

Mercedes' GLE flagship SUV is back for 2020 in rakish coupé form, and will take on the BMW X6 and Porsche Cayenne Coupé with tightened handling, improved aerodynamic efficiency and a characteristically tech-heavy interior. There's added practicality over the previous model as well, with a longer wheelbase, larger door openings and a bigger boot among the key improvements. AMG's hot version is at the show as well, featuring a 429bhp hybridised 3.0-litre straight-six. 

Mercedes-Benz launches new GLE Coupe as eighth SUV

Mercedes-AMG

GLB 35

Taking on Audi's new RS Q3 will be an Affalterbach-fettled version of Mercedes' new GLB compact SUV. In-top spec '45' guise, the hot high-rider will pack 416bhp from the brand's M139 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit, and feature the same 'Drift Mode' function as the recently launched A45 S hyper hatch, but it's the slightly less potent GLB 35 that's headed to Frankfurt. The model features the same 302bhp 2.0-litre mild hybrid unit as the A35, alongside a number of performance-inspired styling modifications. 

Mercedes-AMG GLB35 4Matic revealed as 302bhp compact SUV

Mini 

Electric

Mini’s first series-production electric model bears a heavy resemblance to the 3dr Cooper upon which it’s based, but it’s the pricing and performance figures that have made the headlines. Prices start from just £24,000 after application of the government grant, although the car can't match the new Peugeot e-208 or Vauxhall Corsa-e for range. It will make its public debut at Frankfurt before production gets underway in November. 

First drive: 2019 Mini Electric driven on track

Porsche 

Taycan

Porsche's new Taycan kick-starts a £5.3 billion electrification programme, and will make its public debut at Frankfurt. The Tesla Model S rival promises to rewrite the rules of EV performance with a 911-beating low centre of gravity, 0-62mph time of 3.2 seconds and a range of up to 281 miles. 

New Porsche Taycan arrives as pivotal electric sports car

Renault 

Captur

Renault has given the second generation Captur SUV a dramatic interior revamp in line with the tech-laden new Clio supermini. Like the Clio, exterior styling changes are mainly evolutionary, although Renault describes the new model as “muscular and more expressive” thanks to a redesigned front end and significant increase in size. Frankfurt is also expected to mark the debut of the plug-in E-Tech variant, which is due to go on sale in 2020. 

Renault updates big-selling Captur with new platform and interior

Seat

Taracco PHEV

Following the reveal earlier this year of its Minimo and el-Born electric concepts, Seat is brining electrification to the showroom with its first plug-in hybrid. The Taracco PHEV is powered by a 242bhp petrol-electric powertrain, which is good for over 31 miles of electric range and will emit less than 50g/km of CO2. 

New Seat Taracco PHEV is brand's first plug-in hybrid

Skoda

Kamiq and Scala Monte Carlo 

Skoda is not expected to reveal any all-new models at this year's Frankfurt show, but will display a new Monte Carlo trim option for the Scala hatch and Kamiq compact SUV that celebrates the brand's rallying heritage.

As with the smaller Fabia (pictured), which has been available in Monte Carlo guise since 2011, the Kamiq and Scala receive black exterior trim elements and bespoke badging. 

Smart

Fortwo and Forfour update

Daimler and Geely-owned Smart is getting underway with an all-electric revolution, and will show off updated versions of its Fortwo and Forfour EQ electric city cars at Frankfurt. The facelift brings with it the axing of the petrol-powered Fortwo and Forfour, but styling changes are more an evolution than a revamp. 

New Smart EQ Fortwo and Forfour begin brand’s EV future

Vauxhall 

Corsa

Niche Combo Life MPV aside, the new Corsa is the first Vauxhall to be developed since the brand came under PSA Group ownership in 2017. The supermini weighs up to 108kg less than its predecessor, and, like the Peugeot 208 with which it shares its platform, can be specced with petrol, diesel or electric powertrains. 

New Vauxhall Corsa: full engine range details released

Grandland X PHEV

Vauxhall will also show off its first plug-in hybrid - the Grandland X Hybrid4 - at Frankfurt. The compact SUV packs a 196bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to two 108bhp electric motors for a combined output of 296bhp. A 13.2kWh battery gives an electric-only range of 31 miles and can be fully charged in just two hours with a 7.4kW home charger. 

New Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid4 is brand's first PHEV

Volkswagen 

ID 3

One of the most important new cars unwrapped at Frankfurt is the new Volkswagen ID 3 electric hatchback. The brand’s first dedicated EV model is capable of 125kW fast-charging and manages a range of between 205 and 342 miles, depending on battery size. Three variants will be available, with prices for entry-level models starting at £25,000 - only slightly more than the Mini Electric, which can cover significantly fewer miles between charges.

Volkswagen ID 3: vital EV revealed with up to 341-mile range

New ID concept

Alongside the production ID 3, Volkswagen is expected to show a new electric car in concept form. Sales boss Jurgen Stackmann said it will give us "an idea of what’s coming next - and that’s clearly compact, because that’s what Volkswagen does", suggesting that the model could preview a previously confirmed value crossover, likely called the ID 2. Early details hint it will sit below the already-previewed Crozz SUV, with prices starting from under £18,000.

Volkswagen's sub-£18,000 electric car set for Frankfurt reveal

T-Roc Cabriolet

The T-Roc Cabriolet sits, essentially, on its own in the convertible compact SUV segment, and strengthens its unique position with a sub-£30k list price. Volkswagen intends for the new model to bring an "extroverted and emotive" element to its line-up, but has no immediate plans for more drop-top models. 

Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet is only mainstream convertible SUV

Read more

Volkswagen ID 3: early prototype review

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Comments
24

26 July 2019

From this preview of potential new launches and 'upcoming' models I would say VAG is looking well placed to ride the electric vehicle surge wave that is undeniably coming. Only misguided pricing could cause a wipe-out, and ID 3 is surely the game changer Musk touted the Model 3 would be?

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Surely Vauxhall's first plug-in hybrid was the Ampera.

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