Among the legacy car makers, there are surely no brands whose stock has risen as sharply, amid the transition to EV, as Korean sister companies Kia and Hyundai.
As is to be expected, the German marques dominated at this year’s Munich motor show, constructing enormous stands not only in the expo centre on the outskirts of town, but in the very heart of Munich’s old town. BMW, Porsche, and Audi all gave strong showings (I particularly enjoyed Audi naming its stand the “hall of progress”), but one brand stood out among all the rest, not just for the size of their elaborate displays, but for the volume of exciting new metal on show: Mercedes.
It really isn’t much fun being a non-German brand at a German motor show. While Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, and co. drew all the headlines with their enormous and elaborate display stands, poor Renault was tucked away in an easily missable corner of a much quieter hall of the Munich expo center.
Imagine for a second you’re in the market for a fast, luxury, four-seater electric car and money isn’t really an issue. Perhaps you don’t even have to imagine because that is in fact your reality – in which case, congratulations, and I slightly hate you.
If you were to take a pen to a blank piece of paper, and from scratch, attempt to design a vehicle that is the very antithesis of everything you’d look for in a mode of urban transportation, I strongly suspect that you’d end up drawing something that looked an awful lot like… a car.
Across its long and storied history, Mercedes-Benz has repeatedly proven itself to be a marque capable of doing lots of different types of car extremely well. From low-slung, sporty convertibles to compact city cars of unparalleled luxury, there is hardly a shape of four-wheeled thing that Merc hasn’t successfully taken swing at. But there has never been so much as a shadow of doubt as to which type of car Mercedes does best.
I have a hunch that if you were to ask 100 random petrolheads which ICE car would be the most sacrilegious to convert to electric, there would be one overwhelmingly popular answer. A few would perhaps select some naturally aspirated Lambo or Ferrari, but the rest, without hesitation, would surely name the Porsche 911.
After taking its sweet time to get cracking in the first place, Audi is now off to a strong start on its long journey to 100% electrification.
Generally speaking, getting overexcited about a concept car is a one-way ticket to bitter disappointment. Why? Because firstly, it may not even make it to production. And secondly, even if it does, it’ll probably look very “different” – aka “worse.” Goodbye massive rims, butterfly doors, and wacky interior with joysticks in place of a wheel. Hello softened edges, cheap plastics and sadness.
In this EV game, there are heroes, both sung and unsung. More often than not, it’s the Teslas and Polestars of this world that steal all the headlines with their space-age technology and spaceship designs. But actually, some of the most significant EVs of the past decade have rather flown under the radar, adored by those who drive them but underappreciated by the rest of the world.