German carmakers focused on plans to catch up with rivals in EV race

Article by Anita Panait, on September 26, 2012

While German carmakers like Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen were focused on improving its diesel and petrol engines, its rivals in the US and Japan were already concentrating on developing hybrid technology and electric vehicles. However, the German Big 3 are now on sprinting to develop hybrid and electric vehicles and are all eyeing to unveil their environmentally friendly products by the end of 2013. According to Peter de Haan, an auto markets analyst at consulting company Ernst Basler + Partner, German carmakers “slept through the hybrid trend,” which eventually eroded their image as technology leaders. He remarked that with the launch of their electric vehicles next year, German carmakers have the opportunity to recover.

Spearheading the German Big 3 is Daimler, which would commence the delivery of an electric version of the Smart city car in the next few weeks. Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz will also unveil to the public at the Paris auto show this week its SLS AMG E-CELL supercar. The electric gull-wing supercar, which would be rolled out in 2013, is powered by four electric motors that allow it to accelerate from zero to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in 4 seconds, just a tad slower than 571-hp combustion version, which can achieve a 0-100 kph acceleration in 3.8 seconds. The VW brand, meanwhile, is planning to roll out battery-powered variants of the Up city car and the Golf compact in 2013. Audi will commence a limited-run two-seater called the R8 e-tron later this year. Another German carmaker, Porsche will commence the deliveries of its 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid in 2013.

BMW, on the other hand, plans to roll out the i3, the first offering in its "i" electric sub-brand, in 2013.  The carmaker intends to introduce the i8 plug-in hybrid sportster in 2014. However, French carmaker Renault and its partner Nissan, which produces the segment-leading Leaf electric vehicles, would not easily give up its EV advantage after investing a combined EUR4 billion ($5.2 billion) in electric cars. Renault is expect to unveil a electric compact dubbed Zoe, its fourth electric model after the Fluence sedan, Kangoo delivery van and the Twizy.

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