What will be the star of the 2016 Paris Motor Show*?
Hint: It will come with a cord.
“Opel Ampera-e will be the BEV star of the show, hands down,” predicted Pedro Lima, an electric vehicle expert whose website, PushEVs, extols the virtues of the electric car, and other new environmentally friendly transportation technologies.
Lima predicts the Ampera-e, the European equivalent of the new Chevrolet Bolt in America, will become the standard by which all BEVs (or battery electric vehicles in his dictionary) will become judged.
“Every new BEV will be compared to the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Opel Ampera-e,” he said.
The Bolt, which goes on sale in late 2016 in America, is touted by General Motors as having a 238-mile range, in full electric operation. Its electric powerplant produces 204-horsepower, and will propel the vehicle to a top speed of 150 kilometers per hour (93 m.p.h.). It is also advertised as the first “affordable” long-range EV – which is a slap at EV pioneer Tesla, whose long-promised low price model is years late. Tesla currently specializes in luxury EVs with Bolt-like range, but six-figure prices. Chevrolet lists base pricing for the Bolt at $37,495, before deducting possible governmental tax breaks of $7,000 or more. (Though Ampera-e pricing has not been confirmed, the Bolt’s price would be equivalent to €33,400.)
The Ampera-e will make its debut in European dealerships a few months behind the Bolt, in 2017, the company says
(Don’t confuse the all-electric Ampera-e with the Ampera, a gas-electric hybrid which was introduced in 2011 and discontinued in 2014 due to slow sales.)
Lima thinks the Bolt/Ampera-e debut at this time is especially ironic, since EVs fans are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the film, “Who Killed The Electric Car”. General Motors was fingered as the prime suspect, for those who may not remember.
It has also been six years since the EV market pioneer, the Nissan Leaf, made its debut. It blazed a trail for other all-electric vehicles to follow. But the Leaf’s original range of something less than 100 miles seems passe now.
However, a face-lifted version of the Leaf, with a more powerful battery pack – up to 45 kilowatt-hours – is being shown here, along with the similar Renault Zoe R400, from Nissan’s Alliance partner. Both of those vehicles could be expected to attempt to undercut the Ampera-e on price, if not range.
Nissan and Renault will also be showing electric vans, the Kangoo and the eNV200, in Paris. Lima is hoping to see an electrified version of the Nissan Micra minicar, which he says has the charisma the Leaf lacks. Renault also will be showing off the tiny Twingo ZE electric, while Smart offers the similar ForFour ED.
Mercedes-Benz is expected to unveil an electric sport utility vehicle here – the harbinger of four planned EVs likely to debut by 2020. BMW will showcase its latest i3 EV, along with a new electric scooter. Kia and Hyundai have their latest hybrids to unwrap, while Toyota previews Prius Prime models with extended electric range. Honda promises new electric and hybrid versions of its Clarity line, which previously only came in limited hydrogen fuel cell iterations.
Generally speaking, the Paris show will be a big one for electrically powered vehicles and hybrid gas-electric models, while diesel-powered cars – traditionally among the most popular models here – are likely to be pushed to the shadows. Diesel is a dirty word in Paris these days, as the local government moved to ban older diesel-powered cars in the city as of last July; a complete ban may come within a few years. Diesel’s inherently worse (much worse than gasoline engines) tailpipe emissions are blamed for Paris’ smoggy skies. And carmakers further sullied diesel’s name by taking advantage of Europe’s lax testing regimes, to pass off many new models that spew worse-than-allowed particulate pollution into the skies.
Vilified Volkswagen, which was caught with emissions-test cheating equipment on its so-called “clean” diesel-powered vehicles, promises to preview new electric vehicle technologies here. But Lima has nothing but disdain for VW’e efforts.
“Volkswagen will continue to show electric cars for a distant future, to undermine electric cars by stating that the technology isn’t ready yet,” he writes, “so the automaker can continue to sell polluting cars.”
(*The Paris show, officially known as the Mondial de l’Automobile, runs October 1-16 at the Paris Expo.)
September 23, 2016