The trend toward electric cars appears unstoppable, as more go on display at auto shows. The 2009 Frankfurt auto show is no different, with electric entrants from Volkswagen, Audi, Ford, Renault, and Tesla.
Tesla Roadster Sport Brabus
Independent tuner Brabus developed a new division around the Tesla Roadster, called Brabus Zero Emission Vehicles. The company offers a list of modifications to the Roadster that includes custom alloy wheels with low rolling resistance sport tires, a carbon fiber spoiler with integrated LED daytime running lights, and a rear spoiler and diffuser.
The custom Brabus interior may offend some people that choose the Tesla Roadster for its eco cred, as it uses leather on just about every interior surface. Still, it's a vast improvement over the somewhat spartan interior offered by Tesla.
One of the most innovative features from Brabus is this sound generator, designed to compensate for the lack of engine noise from the Roadster. It can play four different sound themes that rise and fall with the car's power output: V-8, racecar engine, Beam, and Warp. When we walked over it was playing the Warp theme, a bass thrumming that rose and fell with a futuristic sound.
Audi's electric sports car, the e-tron, was one of the hits of the show. It uses a lithium ion battery pack mounted behind the cabin. The battery pack gives the four traction motors enough power to get to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, and run for a range of 154 miles. The motors deliver a combined 313 horsepower, and an astounding 3,319 pound-feet of torque.
The e-tron's power system automatically puts 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels and 30 percent to the front wheels, compensating for the greater weight distribution to the rear. As conditions dictate, torque can be increased or decreased at each wheel, an electric version of Audi's legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive.
Befitting a concept, the cabin uses a futuristic design, such as cameras and screens instead of rearview mirrors. Because of its electric power train, the instrument cluster is simplified, with analog speedometer, analog power consumption, and a screen that can show a variety of information. The electronics are designed to communicate with external infrastructure to take into account traffic and stop lights when computing the most efficient routes.
Renault, similar to partner Nissan, wants to be a leader in electric cars, and expects to start production in 2011. The Zoe Z.E. is an example of a sporty two seater. It's electric motor gives it 95 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque, with a top speed of 87 mph. The lithium ion battery pack gives it a range of 100 miles.
If the lines of the Peugeot iOn look familiar, that's because it is a rebadged Mitsubishi iMiev, the electric car that goes into production next year. Peugeot is buying the cars from Mitsubishi to get a jump on electric car distribution. Similar to the iMiev, the iOn produces 64 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque, and has a range of 80 miles.
Get used to seeing these types of chargers; they should be cropping up in parking lots all over during the next decade. In rapid charge mode, it can juice up the iOn to 80 percent of battery capacity in 30 minutes. From a 220-volt socket, the iOn's battery charges up in about six hours.
Volkswagen began showing versions of the Up! concept last year. The E-Up! is a dedicated electric vehicle, a compact car with 54 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen says it will get to 62 mph in 11.3 seconds, and hit a top speed of 84 mph. Range should be about 80 miles.
Reflecting its high-tech style, the instrument cluster is an LCD. But to save electricity, the seats and even mirror adjustment is manual. The knob on the console selects forward, reverse, or park, while the center LCD is a touch screen, offering navigation and other information.
Ford partnered with automotive parts supplier Magna to quickly develop this electric version of the Ford Focus. It uses a 100 kilowatt motor and 23 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack for a range of 75 miles and a top speed of 85 mph.
This Focus BEV is the first of a fleet of 15 that will be tested in the U.K.; the research from this testing will help Ford in its goal to produce an electric vehicle in 2011. The charging pole is a concept from Scottish and Southern Energy.