GreenCarReports: 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show Coverage

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Mercedes-Benz E-Cell Plus extended-range electric car, Frankfurt Motor Show, 2009

Mercedes-Benz E-Cell Plus extended-range electric car, Frankfurt Motor Show, 2009

It's time: the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show is upon us, and High Gear Media is live at the biggest, hottest Messe in the world to bring you the latest on green cars, diesels, electric cars, hybrid electric vehicles, E-REVs, and NEVs right here at GreenCarReports.com.

We've previewed the Frankfurt show for you in the past few weeks, and now we're launching our CoverItLive updates and Twitter feeds to keep you updated on the latest breaking news from the show floor and the annual night of previews that begins in a few hours, on Central European Time.

The doors to the eleven halls at the Frankfurt show open early on September 14--but GreenCarReports has previews of almost all the new earth-friendlier vehicles you'll read about elsewhere. Here's our advance glimpse at what's going to be green in Frankfurt: the fuel efficient, high-gas-mileage, advanced technology vehicles that promise to change the way we drive and live.Leave us your thoughts and feedback in the comments below. You can see more on the new cars and concepts from Frankfurt over on TheCarConnection and Motor Authority--and follow High Gear Media's live Twitter feed from the show right here:

Audi R8 "e-tron" and others

The sports-luxury end of the expanding empire of VW has fanned the flames of alt-fuel fascination with a microsite, ElectricityUntamed.com, showing a countdown clock to its Frankfurt press event.

"What happened to electricity?" asks the site. "It got dumbed down and domesticated. It's stuck inside toothbrushes and coffee makers."

"But on September 15, 2009," it teases, "electricity, and all its force and power, will run wild and free and completely untamed."

Included are four viral videos on the raw power of electricity. They show a runaway electric lawn mower, a lightning strike, an electric go-kart at speed, and an arcing power station. (We would have embedded one or two, but they broke our browser; go to the site to view 'em.)

Media speculation now centers on a possible all-electric version of the Audi R8 supercar. It would be the first direct competition by an established brand for the electric 2009 Tesla Roadster.

Audi has denied claims of an electric R8, but the site's promise falls flat if the carmaker reveals nothing more than a hybrid-electric version of its mass-market hatchback, the Audi A3 Hybrid.

If the A3 Hybrid does appear, it would almost surely share technology with last year’s Volkswagen Golf TwinDrive hybrid, which may itself be shown in a new version or as a production car.

BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept, 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show

BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept, 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show

BMW

The men from Munich most surely stole a march on Mercedes when they unveiled their BMW Concept EfficientDynamics coupe last week.

It's a hybrid, it's a diesel, it's got a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine--mounted in the rear. As we said at the time, Hell has just frozen over.

The little turbodiesel three puts out 163 horsepower. Two electric motors, one each end, are run by a lithium-ion battery pack, for a total of 356 hp and an awesome 590 foot-pounds of torque.

Rear wheels are driven by both engine and electric power, while the front wheels are driven just by electrons. The electric range is up to 31 miles, BMW says, with 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. And fuel efficiency? More than 60 miles per gallon.

BMW will also show its first two production hybrids: the BMW X6 ActiveHybrid and 7 Series ActiveHybrid, each vehicle paralleled by a competitor from Mercedes-Benz.

The BMW 7-Series Hybrid is a mild hybrid sedan with lithium-ion cells. It follows the S400 Hybrid sedan from Mercedes-Benz, the world's first production hybrid car to use a lithium-ion battery.

The US-built X6 ActiveHybrid is based on the Two-Mode technology developed with GM, largely for full-size sport utilities and trucks.

Mercedes-Benz E-Cell Plus extended-range electric car, Frankfurt Motor Show, 2009

Mercedes-Benz E-Cell Plus extended-range electric car, Frankfurt Motor Show, 2009

MERCEDES-BENZ

So far, no details have filtered out on any new concepts from Mercedes-Benz. Still, every other year, the company unveils a "Vision" concept car. At the last Frankfurt Motor Show, it was the stunning 42-MPG full-size sedan F700 Vision concept.

We strongly suspect there's more news to come. Stay tuned to GreenCarReports.com, and we'll bring you any updates as they happen.

We do know that the company will show a revised model of its BlueZero E-Cell Plus extended-range electric car, one of three BlueZero concepts shown at the Detroit Auto Show.

In January, the E-Cell Plus had a total range of 375 miles, 60 of them in pure electric mode from a 17.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. The extra range came from a 67-horsepower, turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine adapted from the one in the Smart ForTwo.

In either mode, the 0-to-62-mph time is quoted as less than 11 seconds.

Benz claimed a recharge of an hour or less for that 60 miles of electric range, using special high-voltage charging equipment. For standard home outlets, it's more like six hours.

2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

2010 Mercedes-Benz ML450 Hybrid

Also on display will be the Mercedes-Benz ML450 BlueHybrid which, like the BMW X6 ActiveHybrid, uses the Two-Mode Hybrid system jointly developed by GM, Daimler, Chrysler, and BMW. It will join the S400 Hybrid full-size sedan, launched last year, the world's first production hybrid car to use a lithium-ion battery.

Mercedes is also likely to show smaller engines in its cars. It has been pushing hard to downsize engines in general, and will likely offer a four-cylinder diesel E-Class in the US within a year or two.

Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 Concept

Peugeot 3008 HYbrid4 Concept

PEUGEOT

Neither one will be available in the US market,  but Peugeot is planning to show two groundbreaking diesel-electric hybrids, becoming the first maker to put a hybrid-electric vehicle with a diesel engine into production.

That vehicle is previewed in the thinly disguised 3008 HYbrid4 Concept, a crossover utility vehicle. Peugeot will also show a diesel-hybrid version of its sporty RCZ coupe.

Renault Kangoo be bop ZE electric vehicle

Renault Kangoo be bop ZE electric vehicle

RENAULT

The other French carmaker's big announcement will be its new compact Fluence sedan. Unless it's adapted as a future Saturn (now that GM is selling off that division), we won't see it in the States.

But a version of the Fluence is supposedly the sedan Renault is developing for the Better Place project, including a removable battery pack. Engineers will be poring over that one, you can imagine.

The Renault EVs, which share their electric drive and battery pack with the recently announced 2012 Nissan Leaf from its alliance partner, are eagerly awaited as the first mass-production EVs from a major manufacturer to be sold in Europe.

The first of these has already been shown; it's the uber-cute Renault Kangoo BeBop ZE.

Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid Concept

Lexus LF-Ch Compact Hybrid Concept

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept

Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept

TOYOTA

While we don't expect anything particularly shocking or radical, the Toyota and Lexus stand will offer its share of green vehicles. Hardly surprising, they will all be variations of hybrid cars.

Toyota itself will unveil the final version of its Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, which swaps out the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack used in the standard 2010 Toyota Prius for a higher-energy lithium-ion pack.

The rollout plans for the Prius Plug-In are very modest, with only a few hundred vehicles globally to be distributed to fleets in Japan, Europe, and the US starting at the end of 2009. No date has been set for sales to actual retail buyers.

Toyota will also show the Auris Hybrid, essentially a hybrid version of what used to be the hatchback model of the Toyota Corolla. It will go into production at Toyota's UK plant next year.

Lexus will show a dedicated hybrid hatchback concept called the LF-Ch, which may be a hatchback variation of the new 2010 Lexus HS250h four-door sedan just now reaching US dealers.

Hatchbacks are more popular in Europe for smaller cars than sedans, so replacing the HS250h with a five-door hatch--solely in hybrid form, without a gasoline-only equivalent--makes sense. As of this year, Lexus is going hybrid-only in Britain for most of its lines, dropping the gasoline variants.

Volkswagen Plug In Coming

Volkswagen Plug In Coming

VOLKSWAGEN

Even stalwart diesel supporter VW, makers of the eagerly awaited 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI, is putting its toes in the electric-car pond.

Ignoring images of electrocution prompted by that metaphor, Volkswagen may turn its Frankfurt electric-car concept into reality.

More recently, a VW executive said recently that its Up micro-car range will include an all-electric version. More to come on this one, too.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt

2009 Frankfurt Auto Show: Stay Updated

Frankfurt's where German automakers will launch their biggest guns and best artillery, including several high-profile green concept cars. (Automakers from other, lesser countries may also make a few trivial, far less important announcements. Ahem.)

The intrepid editor-in-chief of High Gear Media, aka our chief masochist Marty Padgett, will be there to bring us all the latest news.

Subscribe to our High Gear Media RSS feed on your browser or by email--or, get RSS feeds for TheCarConnection, MotorAuthority and GreenCarReports separately.

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