The hype has gone
If there is no pressure from the market and/or no pressure through governmental directives (just like it used to be in California), the future is on the side of range-extenders.
E-vehicles? Do you remember the hype? International motor shows in Frankfurt, Detroit, Paris, and Tokyo… you name it! Everywhere we went: e-mobility all over the place. All the manufacturers were trying to convince us that the future is supposed to be here and now. And today? Let’s take a walk around the Geneva motor show and take a close look to see if there is a growing E-segment.
Our first impression is that there is a huge trend for muscle cars sometimes with, sometimes without, the fig leaf called Hybrid. LaFerrari 963 HP, Lamborghini Veneno 750 HP, McLaren P1 916 HP, the new RR Wraith 632 HP, the new Corvette and the new Alfa 4C – all these cars are highly emotional and barely rational, just like in the good old days.
Should we welcome this trend? Well, first of all, cars are predominantly based on emotions and it should stay that way. The lesson some manufacturers have to learn though is that nice design and low CO2 emissions do not necessarily have to be a contradiction in terms.
Pure e-vehicles? As we pointed out long ago – besides the high prices for these cars – the infrastructure has to be installed first. The charging times must come down as drastically as their prices. Is this mission accomplished? No! Absolutely not! Are governments all over the world keen to establish this kind of infrastructure? No! Is the industry willing to invest large sums in e-mobility when almost nobody is able to afford these cars? No!
These facts undoubtedly lead us to the conclusion we’ve already quoted in this very magazine. If there is no pressure from the market and/or no pressure through governmental directives (just like it used to be in California), the future is on the side of range-extenders. Not range-extenders that are only capable of coming up with a range of 25km, but range-extenders, at least of the Ampera sort, which may have a range of 80km and even more. Within the next two years we will see a large variety of these cars coming from the premium makes and sooner or later being offered by almost every manufacturer, in order to save emissions and show high residual values.
But we will also see a renaissance of LPG-powered cars, as a result of substantially increasing fuel prices. Meanwhile, hydraulic fracturing may have the reverse effect, in the US particularly. Due to this the driving force for change in the automotive industry, the high petrol prices, will decrease at least in the States. But because the US is still one of the most important markets in the world this will have an impact on the speed of development with regard to future engines.
So, the technological landscape will change significantly, and rapidly, in the next couple of years and where there is change there is also risk. As manufacturers struggle ever more desperately to gain market share, which ones will back the right horse, to mix our metaphors? After the hype is before the hype!