When the world’s automakers last convened in Frankfurt to display their latest and greatest models in 2011, the European auto industry was still reeling from the impact of the euro zone crisis which had done considerable damage to the economies and financial prospects of a number of Europe’s largest automakers. While the impacts of the far-reaching euro zone crisis continue to limit sales of new cars, automakers appear to be taking a cautiously optimistic approach to product development at this year’s show.

According to reports from the auto show, this caution is particularly evident in the lack of truly boundary pushing technology innovation on display, a result of the drastically reduced product-development budgets of many of Europe’s leading automakers, such as Peugeot or Fiat for example.  However, this reduced emphasis on new technology did not mean that automakers have abandoned electric vehicle development. On the contrary, several of the most buzzed about vehicles on display at the show came from the electric side of several automakers’ ranges.

Volkswagen, for one, chose to direct the spotlight onto its promising EV line, displaying its wide variety of electric vehicles which included the eUp! and several new versions of its eGolf model. Another European giant in Germany’s BMW introduced its first ever fully electric i3 as well as additions to its plug-in hybrid range, including the i8 and a prototype of the forthcoming x5 eDrive SUV model. Smart joined in on the EV parade, presenting a very early, as yet door-less, prototype of its forthcoming four person version of the current ForTwo Electric Drive. In addition to the strong full-electric offering, several automakers joined the plug-in hybrid fray in introducing new additions to their existing lines, these included both budget automaker Opel, introducing a stunning new concept car, as well as notorious gas-guzzlers such as Porsche’s hybrid Spyder.

This year’s Frankfurt show saw the continent’s automakers take an encouraging step towards increased EV development and a continued focus on the future of this crucial technology.

Source: Reuters report on Frankfurt auto show 

Independent Online Business Report article on green presence 

Bloomberg’s articles on the various automakers displays

CarScoops.com feature on the Smart FourJoy

Phys.org rundown of the new models introduced at the auto show

Digital Trends preview of Opel’s concept car 

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