It's a big show in general, spread throughout several buildings in the manner of a small town. Most are occupied by huge displays of the German automakers' collective might, and those German firms will be responsible for many of the show's big debuts.
Other brands still have plenty to offer though, so we're bringing you a full guide to the green cars and concepts of the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show. We'll keep this list updated, as more vehicles are sure to be revealed in the next few weeks leading up to the show.
The BMW i3 has been a long time coming, but Frankfurt will mark its official world debut following the small city-based launches last month. It'll be the first chance most get to interact with the car, from its quirky door layout to its concept car-style interior, to its unusual proportions.
Frankfurt is also said to be the launchpad for BMW's other much-anticipated Project i vehicle, the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. Powertrain aside it's much more BMW's usual territory--low-slung and fast--but with a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder turbocharged powerplant and electric motor combination, low fuel use is still a priority. You can see a teaser video of the car here.
Mercedes-Benz has experimented with fully-electric vehicles in the form of the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive and ballistic SLS AMG Electric Drive, but it still sees combustion power as vital for its larger sedans--one of which is the S500 Plug-In Hybrid. The large luxury sedan gets a claimed 78 mpg between electric and gasoline running--though in the real world, these figures will vary.
Land Rover will debut two new hybrid products at the Frankfurt Auto Show, based on the new Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models. Each will use a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 as its basis, an 8-speed ZF automatic gearbox (used across the automotive world) and a 35 kW electric motor. As regular hybrids rather than plug-ins they rely more on their diesel powerplants than electric drive, but the company claims 36.7 mpg on the combined European cycle.
The e-Golf has been a long time coming, but finally at Frankfurt Volkswagen will unleash the production version of its Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus Electric challenger. While the only efficiency figures released are generated in European testing and therefore higher than you'll see in EPA tests, VW is claiming class-best efficiency of 20.4 kWh per 100 miles. However, its 118-mile range, close to the Leaf's European 120 mile figure, suggests its real-world range will be similar too--think mid-70s in EPA testing.
Joining the e-Golf at Frankfurt is the Europe-only e-Up, based on the firm's small five-door minicar. Efficiency is even greater here thanks to the car's low weight, at just 18.8 kWh per 100 miles. Official range is 100 miles--pointing to a real-world figure somewhere in the 60s and 70s--while its 81-horsepower motor gives it better performance than the gasoline Up. Provided the price is right, it could prove a worthy challenger to the Renault Zoe.
It wouldn't be the Frankfurt Auto Show without one of the major German marques dressing a performance car up as an eco-friendly hybrid, and this year's token plug-in is the Audi Sport Quattro Concept. As part of its 700-horsepower drivetrain you'll find a 147-hp electric motor and 14.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The rest is covered by a four-liter gasoline V-8. Looks fantastic, and an improvement on sports cars without an electric powertrain, but its greenness remains to be seen...
BMW isn't just displaying two new production electric vehicles at Frankfurt--it has a concept too. The Concept5 X5 eDrive looks essentially production ready, and could well be the next hybrid model BMW launches. It uses a four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor for a combined 62 mpg--in European testing, at least. It's also as quick as the firm's diesel X5, but offers almost 20 miles of electric range.
Taking the title of "car at Frankfurt most likely to make your children cry", the Lexus LF-NX concept previews the look of the new Lexus NX small crossover due in the next year or so. The real thing will come in 300h hybrid and 200t gasoline (probably turbo) formats, and sit on the platform of the current Toyota RAV4. It's set to rival vehicles like BMW's X1--but offer much better economy figures.
For something a little more down-to-earth than all these luxury sedans, sports cars and SUVs, MINI has just the thing--the Vision Concept. It doesn't take much of an imagination to see this as the next-generation MINI Cooper, expected to debut in production form soon. Lighter and more aerodynamic, the Cooper will also be helped along by the new BMW 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine.
Is this the next Chevrolet Volt? Erm... probably not. But it might be a clue to the next Volt's drivetrain, as well as the future design direction of GM's European offshoot, Opel. The Monza harks back to a classic Opel of the same name, but the gull-winged four-seat shooting brake is a long way from its namesake's 2-door coupe layout. Under the hood is a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged engine running on compressed natural gas as part of a range-extended drivetrain.
Smart continues its run of both concept cars and daft names with the FourJoy, a four-seat, doorless concept previewing the look of the next-generation Forfour. It's the best clue yet as to what the next Fortwo and Forfour will look like, with details such as the rounded-off square headlights and honeycomb grille likely to make it to production. The concept, like most recent Smart concepts, takes its drivetrain from the Fortwo Electric Drive.
Not a new car, but an update of the concept that originally appeared in 2011. Toyota says it previews its real-world hydrogen fuel cell car due in 2015, and to that end we've been given more details of the car's powertrain. Essentially, it works like one of Toyota's existing hybrids, but the regular gasoline engine is replaced by a fuel cell, with a battery providing the extra range. 420 miles is the target, with 300 a realistic estimate.
Much as a hybrid hot hatchback sounds exciting, we were a little disappointed to discover that Toyota's Hybrid-R concept would be based on the Yaris rather than being an all-new hybrid sports car. No matter, as the Yaris Hybrid-R has a 400-horsepower, all-wheel drive hybrid layout to play with--and should at least help reassure fans that hybrids can be just as exciting as regular cars.
Perhaps the most beautiful car appearing at Frankfurt, Volvo says its plug-in hybrid Concept Coupe takes inspiration from one of its most famous models--the P1800. It uses a twincharged--that's turbocharged and supercharged--gasoline four-cylinder and an electric motor setup, for 400 horsepower and over 440 lb-ft of torque. Range hasn't yet been revealed, but more details are sure to follow at Frankfurt.