23rd September 2017
2017 Frankfurt Motor Show roundup – Part 2: Future fleet favourites
In the first instalment of our roundup of the Frankfurt Motor Show 2017 or Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) as it’s formally known, we looked at exciting announcements and unveilings in the technology, mechanical and mobility arenas. This time, we run through the highlights when it comes to vehicles, from the perspective of fleets and models that are likely to figure in future organisations’ inventories.
Mercedes-Benz is the brand that perennially tops business contract hire and leasing charts and, although presented as just a concept vehicle at Frankfurt this year, an all-electric hatchback heavily echoing the Concept EQA is almost certain to be introduced before we know it. Mercedes is aiming to launch more than ten pure EVs by 2022 and the Concept EQA’s design does away with lines and creases to take the marque’s design language to a new level of purity. With fibre optic head and taillight technology and a full-width rear lighting strip, an expansive wraparound windscreen, dramatically-styled 3D grille and an abundance of exciting blue-tinged elements, Mercedes’ concept for the compact executive hatchback sector will be a stunner if it looks anything like the Concept EQA.
Regarded as the electric A-Class successor of the future, such a car will go down a storm among business fleets and the concept itself incorporates an electric motor on the front and rear axles, producing a combined 200kW and 500Nm torque, along with a driving range of approximately 400km. Compatible for rapid charging, drivers will be able to boost the car’s range by 100km in just ten minutes, and Mercedes intends to develop an extensive electric ecosystem to support its increasingly electrified models.
Through its ‘Roadmap E’ electrification strategy and 6 billion euros of investment, Volkswagen has pledged 80 new electric vehicles by 2025 and showed the world how it envisages them looking by unveiling the I.D. CROZZ at Frankfurt 2017. A four-door SUV coupe crossover akin to the X6 and GLE Coupe from its rivals, the I.D. CROZZ will carry a masculine, athletic air and could look essentially grille-less when it reaches production, with a LED strip running across the front and joining the heavily stylised daytime running lights. The rear will also feature a full-width light bar and the car’s bumpers, arches and alloys will guarantee tremendous road presence. The production vehicle based on the I.D. CROZZ concept will feature VW’s CleanAir system that constantly ensures clean air inside the futuristic interior that will incorporate a voice command system enabling even the doors to be opened verbally. Free from B-pillars, the brand’s Open Space concept is set to be highly minimalistic, with four individual seats, ultra-modern displays and a centre console running the full length of the cabin. Equipped with VW’s 4MOTION all-wheel drive system, I.D. CROZZ is likely to be capable of upto 500km from a single battery charge, and will produce 225kW to help it on its way to 180mph.
A car manufacturer on the up is most certainly SKODA, enjoying worldwide acclaim for its latest fleet-friendly Octavia and Superb hatchbacks and estates along with its immensely attractive large SUV, the KODIAQ. Nowadays, any automotive brand without a range of differently-sized SUVs in its model lineup would be considered as lagging behind, and SKODA unveiled its compact SUV at Frankfurt. Based on the same VAG platform as the latest Tiguan and SEAT’s Ateca, the KAROQ will basically be styled very closely on its larger brother, which will win it many fans across fleets, many of whom will also appreciate its practical and capacious 521-litre boot and VarioFlex rear seats. The KAROQ will feature a fully customisable digital dashboard, capacitive touchscreen, a wealth of connected services plus intelligent smartphone networking, certainly benefitting businesspeople on the move. Two completely new petrol engines will be offered alongside three diesel units, with power ranging from 115bhp to 190bhp and the 1.5 TSI coming fitted with cylinder deactivation technology to delivery boosted fuel economy perfect for company car drivers whose usage patterns aren’t suited to diesel power.
Setting the tone for the identify of future cars from Honda, the Japanese firm revealed its own electric car at this year’s IAA and asserted during the press conference that its Urban EV Concept will actually roll off production lines and onto roads around Europe in just two years’ time. With a straightforward silhouette not dissimilar to earlier incarnations of the Golf, Honda’s compact electric car will actually be 100mm shorter than the Jazz supermini, and the black expanse between the headlights will be capable of displaying multilingual messages to other drivers. Rear-hinged doors provide access to a cabin that features a brace of two-person bench seats, each row finished in distinctive fabric. Wood, wraparound screens, battery displays and a floating steering wheel bestow a heftily futuristic dose to the Urban EV Concept, which is likely to be underpinned by a lightweight battery pack and will be compatible with Honda Power Manager, described in our technological roundup.
BMW has long been one of the primary aspirational badges for company car motorists, and executive saloon drivers of the not-too-distant future are in for a treat if the four-door i Vision Dynamics coupe is anything to go by, potentially tipped to become the i5. Boasting an exquisitely aerodynamic and sporty design, Munich’s premium EV will likely be capable of 0-62mph in 4 seconds thanks to four-wheel all-electric drive, and fleet drivers will find its anticipated range of 600km superb for real-life use.
The compact SUV crossover segment is positively booming, so also worthy of mention are Volkswagen’s T-ROC, styled like a blend between Golf and Tiguan with dimensions similar to Audi’s Q2, and a pair of attractive additions from Korean darlings Hyundai and Kia called the Kona and Stonic respectively.
Britain’s fleet favourite, Vauxhall, exhibited the Country Tourer variant of the new Insignia, which will appeal to organisations requiring large luggage capacity along with a modicum of off-road ability, whilst fleet pickup drivers will undoubtedly clamber to get behind the wheel of Mercedes’ segment debutant, the X-Class, pitched as the most luxurious workhorse to be launched.
At a time when fleet managers are increasingly turning their attention to alternatively-fuelled vehicles, from mild and plug-in hybrids to EVs and even hydrogen, the near future is clearly brimming with exciting new models from a range of manufacturers.