Frankfurt 2017: An Electric Reality?

Mercedes-AMG Project ONE – Photo courtesy of Daimler AG



The problem with covering a major auto show from the comfort of your own home is that you have to try not to live vicariously through your colleagues. Sadly, YouTube dictates otherwise…

Yet, the advantage of not being at a major auto show – especially one located across an ocean – is that you don’t have to mess around with flights, customs, foreign currency, crowds and language barriers.

There is another advantage – rather, disadvantage – to not being n Frankfurt for IAA 2017. While it is cool to see automobiles we, as Americans, will never get, it is the fact that we will never get them on our shores. That is a sad fact considering that Europe is now toying with SUVs and Crossovers like half the world is.

This brings me to my kvetch about this year’s IAA 2017. It appears that the theme of this year’s Fall Major European Auto Show is one where we must reach for the skies in terms of performance and speed while being sustainable by using batteries and electric motors. Or, the two on separate agendas, while the twain meet at other junctions.

The need to electrify our mobility is important. Yet, without a solid infrastructure to support it – including private infrastructure (i.e. multiple unit dwellings, workplaces and a way to break out electric car charging on your electric bills) – how will they sell to everyone? Not just in the new vehicle market, but in the used vehicle one!

These arguments are nothing new to you. They are just a continuous line of questioning that needs to be explored at every turn. You can say “we will electrify every vehicle we sell by 2020” and have frustrated loyal customers wanting something that does not need to be plugged in every time they run out of battery juice.

If Europe thinks they can be gasoline/diesel free in the next decade or so…show us how to do properly do it. Please?

Which brings me to the star of the show…according to everyone. Mercedes-AMG Project ONE is a dream for many. The viewers of Shmee150’s YouTube channel have already weighed in, as have any automotive enthusiast with an inkling towards bonkers looking hypercars. Let’s be honest with ourselves, do we care about a 1,000 horsepower hybrid hypercar developed from Formula One technology that will cost more than 98% of everyone’s net worth?

This is why I feel more compelled to talk about more attainable vehicles shown at IAA 2017, along with the absence of many automakers on the show floor. The latter has been an issue even stateside, but surprisingly shocking in Frankfurt. With Citroen and Opel representing PSA Group on the floor, it makes us wonder if there are issues regarding the rest of the group. A public visitor might think the same thing if he or she cannot see the lineup from Peugeot and DS alongside its Citroen and Opel counterparts. Also absent were Nissan, Infiniti, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Jeep.

Dacia Duster – Photo courtesy of Groupe Renault



In regards to attainable vehicles that debuted at IAA 2017, they represent current trends that need to be met. The all-new Volkswagen T-Roc and the second generation Dacia Duster are two small SUV/Crossovers that will attract a lot of Europeans looking for fun in their lives. Perhaps, maybe the school run in some places…

The Duster is of greater importance since its success was due to its affordability as a capable vehicle to tackle anything off the minor highways and byways. Not to mention, it was a global hit! Sold as a Renault in a good chunk of places, the Duster’s reach and attraction earned them 1 Million units sold over the course of seven years. All of this from a Romanian brand!

Here is my question: Would the Duster work in the USA? At the specification for the new model, there two gasoline and two diesel engine choices. Only a 2WD diesel can get an automatic, while everything else is available with a manual. This will be the darling of the “save the manuals” crowd, but it won’t win everyone over.

On the other hand, the T-Roc would be a great addition for Volkswagen below the Tiguan stateside. The subcompact crossover/SUV segment could grow, but the market dictates going bigger – which means being slightly smaller than the newest Tiguan. Yet, the T-Roc will find customers that are urbane, stylish and upwardly mobile. I believe that is what they’re attracting, at least.

If there was one other vehicle that caught my attention at IAA 2017 – the new Ferrari Portofino. It is the progression of the front-engine California coupe/roadster, which is a stunning car, to begin with. It also claims to be more attainable than any Ferrari before it – given the rate of inflation. Still, it has a powerful V8 underneath its long hood and a look only a connoisseur of the brand would love at first sight.

You know, I’d like to drive a Ferrari before I kick off this planet for good….

Sorry…random thought.

That is not to say there were a lot more debuts and other vehicles worth seeing at IAA 2017. The fact that this confluence of pushing the electrification agenda through the upper limits of performance and technology sends a mixed message to the average consumer. Volkswagen has it right when they are presenting the I.D. Lineup of future electric vehicles. Yet, there are still plenty of obstacles to overcome before they become the standard bearer of automotive transportation on this planet.

For now, there is a new Dacia Duster on the market.

Ferrari Portfino – Photo courtesy of Ferrari S.p,A.

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