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Automobile

Frankfurt showcases EVs، autonomy and a 1،000-hp car

Tuesday 05/September/2017 - 10:58 AM
Sada El Balad
Edited by: Yara Sameh

Electric cars and self-driving technology will be a major focus of this year's Frankfurt auto show، which starts next week. There also will be numerous SUV and crossover debuts as automakers step up efforts to grab a bigger slice of the booming market for high-riding vehicles، auto news reported.

Chinese brands، including Chery Automobile and Jeep suitor Great Wall، will have world debuts as they set their sights on expanding to the U.S. and Europe.

Plenty of horsepower will be on display، including the 1،035-hp Mercedes-AMG Project One.

With all that to see، show visitors may not miss the growing list of absentee brands. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles، Nissan Motor Co.، Volvo Cars and Mitsubishi Motors have decided Europe's biggest auto show doesn't merit marketing money in an era when automakers are increasingly focusing on one-off events to generate social media buzz.

The show's press days are Sept. 12 and 13. Here are some of the vehicles expected to debut.

-Audi-
Audi will showcase advanced autonomous driving technology in its next-generation A7 and A8 sedans. The A8 was shown to journalists in July، when Audi said its flagship sedan is now capable of Level 3 autonomy that allows hands-free driving at low speeds. The A7، which hasn't been seen yet، is expected to get the same system.

-Bentley-
The Continental GT moves to Volkswagen Group's Porsche-developed MSB platform from underpinnings previously shared with the VW Phaeton. It's lighter، more powerful and more aggressively styled. The 6.0-liter turbocharged W-12 engine produces 626 hp، up from 582.

-BMW-
BMW's X7 is expected to debut in concept form. BMW has been hampered against competitors such as the Mercedes-Benz GLS because it hasn't had its own full-size، seven-seat crossover. The X7 will change that. The concept will preview the production model that will be built at BMW's factory in Spartanburg، S.C.، starting next year.

The latest X3 will make its show debut after the SUV was revealed to journalists in June. The new generation is lighter، more powerful and more efficient، with better handling and driving dynamics، BMW says. Its wheelbase has grown 2.2 inches.

The X3 also gets an M-badged performance version for the first time، equipped with a 355-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder. Plug-in and fully electric versions will follow.

The new M5 also will put in an appearance on BMW's show stand. BMW has added four-wheel drive to the performance sedan for the first time. Its 4.4-liter V-8 engine has its power increased by 40 hp to 600 hp.

BMW's other show debuts include concepts of the Z4 and 8 series، the production 6 series Gran Turismo، and revised and sporty versions of the i3. The production Z4 roadster، developed with Toyota، arrives next year. The 8-series concept previews a potential 7-series-based rival to the Mercedes-Benz S-class coupe and Bentley Continental GT.

The 6 series GT replaces the 5 series GT. The i3 electric city car gets a more conventional look with a wider track and design changes to make it appear less boxy. A sporty version called the i3s، with a top speed of 100 mph، also will debut.

-Borgward-
Borgward، a German brand that went out of business in 1962، has been revived by Chinese heavy-truck maker Foto. The marque is expected to unveil a sports car concept that could become a halo model. Borgward، headquartered in Stuttgart، aims to begin European sales in 2019 with vehicles it plans to build in a new German factory. The company hasn't talked about U.S. sales.

-Chery-
China's Chery Automobile will debut an SUV concept، known internally as M31T، which the automaker says will lead its expansion into global markets including the U.S. and Europe within a few years. Former General Motors and Ford Motor Co. designer James Hope، who is setting up Chery's new design and r&d center in Europe، styled the concept. Chery says it will showcase a new design language aimed at "young، urban، forward-thinking customers who choose sophisticated، high-quality products."

-Ferrari-
Ferrari's Portofino will replace the California T as the brand's entry-level car. The hard-top convertible is powered by a V-8 engine with 592 hp، 39 hp more than the California T. The Portofino accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 3.5 seconds، slightly faster than the California T. Its top speed is 198 mph. The Portofino gets Ferrari's E-Diff 3 electronic rear differential to improve traction، and electric power steering. It has a new chassis that weighs significantly less than the California T and improves the car's rigidity.

-Great Wall-
Great Wall Motor، China's largest maker of SUVs and crossovers، will showcase its new upscale Wey brand. The first Wey-badged vehicle، the VV7 crossover، went on sale after the Shanghai auto show in April، with a starting price of 167،800 yuan ($25،424). Great Wall is now testing Wey's second product، the smaller VV5 compact crossover، in China. The company hasn't released details on the vehicles it will display at the show.

-Hyundai-
The Kona، Hyundai's late entry into the growing subcompact crossover segment، will arrive in the U.S. next year، replacing the Accent hatchback. Hyundai is keeping the Accent sedan but hopes shoppers who want a small hatch will divert to the Kona. The Kona is built on the same platform as the Accent and the Kia Stonic، which also debuts in Frankfurt.

-Jaguar-

The E-Pace will expand Jaguar's crossover lineup to two vehicles. The performance-oriented E-Pace compact model is expected to sell at roughly the same rate as the larger F-Pace. The E-Pace will go on sale in January. It will be offered with two four-cylinder gasoline engine options producing 246 hp and 296 hp، each mated to a ZF nine-speed automatic transmission. Jaguar says no diesel engines are planned for the U.S.

Jaguar will also debut the XF Sportbrake، the brand's first wagon for North America since the X-Type a decade ago. The car arrives in the fourth quarter as a 2018 model، powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine with all-wheel drive as standard.

-Kia-
The Stonic shares many parts with the Hyundai Kona. The subcompact crossover has a sweeping roofline and a low center of gravity that Kia said is inspired by the larger SUVs in its lineup، such as the Sportage and Sorento. Like the larger models، the Stonic retains the distinctive "tiger-nose" grille. Kia hasn't confirmed the Stonic for the U.S.، but its North American debut is expected at the L.A. auto show with sales starting soon after.

-Mercedes-Benz-
The AMG Project One near-series study of a $2 million midengine hypercar will be Frankfurt's showstopper. The model will give Mercedes' AMG tuning subbrand a halo car. It will use a Formula 1-based، 1.6-liter V-6 engine assisted by four electric motors to produce 1،035 hp. Mercedes plans to make just 275 units.

The brand will showcase its upcoming EQ subbrand for electric cars with the EQ-A concept that will also have styling cues for its next-generation A-class compact car. Mercedes plans 10 long-range electric vehicles by 2025 in a bid to become the global leader in EV technology. The first EQ concept، the Generation EQ crossover، was unveiled at the 2016 Paris show.

The brand's first pickup، the X class، gets its first auto show outing. The X class is based on Nissan's Navara NP300 platform. Sales are planned in Europe، Latin America and South Africa، but for now Mercedes plans to stay clear of the U.S.'s competitive truck market.

Another Mercedes debut will be a GLC crossover equipped with a plug-in fuel-cell powertrain.

-Mini-
The Mini Electric Concept previews a battery-powered model that will launch in 2019. The car will be based on the Mini three-door. The Frankfurt concept brings Mini's "iconic design and customary go-kart feeling" into the electric mobility age، Mini said.

-Opel-
The former General Motors brand، now owned by France's PSA Group، will show the Grandland X، a minivan with crossover styling based on a PSA platform.

-Porsche-
Porsche is touting better performance for its third-generation Cayenne. The SUV is longer and lower than the current model to make it more streamlined. The Cayenne's 3.0-liter engine has its power increased by 40 hp to 340 hp، while the 2.9-liter V-6 boosts output by 20 hp to 440 hp. The SUV's driving dynamics are improved with standard active all-wheel drive. The Cayenne's wheels grow an inch to 19 inches to improve stability and driving dynamics on bends. The Cayenne also gets Porsche's 12.3-inch full-HD touch screen launched last year on the new Panamera.

-Rolls-Royce-
The Phantom flagship sedan will be the first Rolls-Royce built on the automaker's new in-house aluminum architecture instead of a re-engineered platform supplied by owner BMW Group. Among features designed to attract the super-rich is an option that allow owners to embed bespoke artwork behind glass on the dashboard. The gallery is part of Rolls-Royce's desire to increase personalization within its cars and distance it from "mass luxury" brands، the company says. With its new underpinnings، the Phantom is lighter، stiffer، quieter and more technologically advanced than the previous model. Its "Magic Carpet Ride" is the smoothest offered by the brand to date، Rolls-Royce says.

-Smart-
Smart's Vision EQ foresees a future when users of its Car2Go car-sharing brand won't have to make a journey to pick up their hire vehicle. The full-electric، autonomous version of the brand's two-seat microcar will drive itself to the user's home، office or chosen location. The concept dispenses with a steering wheel and pedals.

-Volkswagen-
After its diesel emissions-rigging scandal، Volkswagen is counting on electric cars to help restore its image. The brand is expected to debut a concept previewing another member of its upcoming I.D. family of fully electric vehicles based on its new Modular Electric platform. VW has signed off on the final design of the I.D. lineup's first model، a hatchback similar to the Golf that's targeted at the European market and due in 2020. The I.D. Buzz، a modern version of the iconic 1960s-era Microbus، will arrive in 2022 to help put its U.S. dealers into the commercial vehicle business. The I.D. Crozz compact crossover is due to launch worldwide in 2023. Frankfurt could see the unveiling of a sporty four-door sedan to compete with Tesla's Model S.

VW also will debut the next-generation Polo and a new small crossover، the T-Roc. Neither will cross the Atlantic because VW thinks they are too small to sell profitably in the U.S.

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