Cars are changing, becoming more and more electrified (or full electric), and people’s mentalities towards them and just getting around in general are also shifting. Motor shows are changing as a result, and as I discovered this year at the IAA Mobility 2021, the German motor show held in Munich, they will never be the same again.
Firstly, even the venue itself was affected by protesters who deemed its presence in the Bavarian capital as negative, because they no longer want cars of any kind in their cities. Protesters blocked some fifteen places on the surrounding autobahns that led to the venue hall, shouting slogans about the climate crisis, demanding car-free cities and even better public transport – how very European, right?
Had they even checked what kind of motor show this was, perhaps they would have realized that companies are already hard at work trying to meet exactly the points that they were trying to make. I got to see most of the motor show this year, although it was impossible for me to cover all of it, and aside from the section where they had modified cars, it was all mostly new electric vehicles and companies showcasing various ideas for green and sustainable urban mobility.
There were definitely some important EV debuts too, some of which are global models that will not be sold just in Europe. For me the biggest premiere at the show had to be the Mercedes-Benz EQE (click for gallery), which you can check out in the gallery and video where I do a quick walk-around of two EQEs in very different specs. The EQE is smaller than the EQS, it has a smaller battery and lower range, but frankly it looks almost identical both inside and out.
The Mercedes stand was where I spent quite a bit of time, because they showed the most new cars. The Three Pointed Star also took the wraps off the EQB, which is a slightly bigger and more practical three-row electric crossover with the same running gear and 66.5 kWh battery as the EQA.
Another new electric Mercedes is the EQT concept, basically an all-electric version of the new Mercedes EQT Will Look A Lot Like This Rendering small commercial vehicle (or people carrier) that in turn is based on the Renault Kangoo. But in spite of its modest roots, the EQT actually looked really good in person – very stylish for what it was – and the good news is it will be going into production (although probably not for the US).
But wait, there were more new electric Mercs at the stand. The EQG Concept garnered a lot of attention, even though the manufacturer remained tight-lipped about its specs. The idea behind it is simple enough: it’s a battery-powered G-Class with some design changes to reflect the fact that it’s electric (as well as a concept) that is believed to draw power from the same 107.6 kWh battery as the EQS.
The Mercedes-Maybach EQS concept was definitely the most opulent debut at the stand, though. It is a very noticeable big SUV with Maybach touches to make it feel extra special. The vehicle they showed at IAA was most likely not fully functional, but the exterior design it showed is pretty much final – there will also be non-Maybach versions of this SUV.
Moving to the BMW stand, the Bavarian manufacturer didn’t really have too much new metal to show. It did pull the wraps off the i Vision Circular, which is a very smartly thought out EV that previews sustainable and easily recyclable cars of the 2040s, and that got some attention, but so did the i4 sedan (click for gallery) and the iX electric SUV which we’ve now seen for months.
The i4 looked and felt exactly like what you would expect it to, given the fact that it is just the electric version of the 4 Series Gran Coupe. It does have unique exterior styling to set it apart from the ICE model, as well as some touches inside, but frankly it’s just a normal BMW that runs on electricity – this idea will certainly appeal to more traditionalist fans of the brand who are thinking of going electric.
But for the same more conservative brand fans, there is a chance the other big new EV at the stand might not be to their taste. The BMW iX is a ground-up new electric high-rider, that’s about the same size as an X5, yet it is actually not related to the X5 at all, riding on a bespoke EV platform, with unique design inside and out – the design is quite polarizing, but those who have driven the iX have thus far declared themselves extremely impressed.
The Renault stand was the stage for another of this show’s major debuts. While for Americans a new Renault Megane is not news, in Europe, the announcement that the new generation Megane is fully electric and a mix between a crossover and a hatchback certainly raised people’s eyebrows. The Megane E-Tech Electric rides on the same CMF-EV platform as the Nissan Ariya, but it’s just front-wheel drive, it has smaller batteries and it will be more affordable.
These were not all the debuts, just the ones I was able to check out and take photos and videos of. The show was not concentrated within the massive expo hall on the outskirts of Munich, but the manufacturers had stands spread out across the city, so for Audi, Porsche and others, I was not able to provide coverage, although our colleagues from Motor1 did see and cover all of them.