I think the main theme that came out of Frankfurt this year was the rush to electrification. Well, I say rush, but we're actually at the beginning of what may be a significant acceleration. Over the past five years or so, depressed oil prices have been among the factors that have constrained electrification. It's still expensive technology, of course. Batteries are getting better, but they are still not - in the eyes of the typical consumer - a patch on a tank full of liquefied fossil-fuel when it comes to range and refuelling.

A number of changes are afoot though and they are changing the balance. Diesel is taking a pummelling after VW's dieselgate scandal and generally bad press for what had been Europe's generally accepted automotive answer to climate change. The decline of diesel share of the German car market is particularly noteworthy (KBA data shows diesel car sales down almost 14% in August, share down to 37.7% and gasoline cars up 15% to a share of 58.4%).

We are also seeing the beginning of the emergence of 48v electrical architecture which makes electrification - starting with some form of electrical assistance to the combustion engine - cheaper to build in. Ultimately, it will help to make full EVs more affordable. As CO2 and emissions rules get tougher and diesel takes a dive, 48v has come along at just the right time.

And there is an important global aspect to consider. Policy makers in the world's largest car market, China, are moving the dial towards electric cars for a number of reasons, not least the need to clean up air quality in China's cities. If China gets it right, there will be ramifications for the global auto industry.

One thing to keep an eye on is official pronouncements from Beijing on the phase-out of combustion engines. Unlike London and Paris, Beijing has not put a date on it yet. Also, there's a balancing act to be achieved on applying EV quotas to China's auto industry; too heavy a hand risks a competitive drag. On the other hand, China's market scale presents a considerable competitive opportunity if electrification is handled deftly. And China is a place where decision-making is not necessarily accompanied by the hand-wringing and debate that ensues elsewhere. Could China come up with an aggressive looking date? Watch that space.

China wants long-term fossil-fuel burning cars ban

GM's CEO has clearly grasped the importance of the policy environment in China

Role of Chinese State vital for NEVs - GM CEO

And our Frankfurt IAA coverage:

Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) 2017

IAA debut models summary

Until next time...

just-auto

The editor's week


I think the main theme that came out of Frankfurt this year was the rush to electrification. Well, I say rush, but we're actually at the beginning of what may be a significant acceleration. Over the past five years or so, depressed oil prices have been among the factors that have constrained electrification. It's still expensive technology, of course. Batteries are getting better, but they are still not - in the eyes of the typical consumer - a patch on a tank full of liquefied fossil-fuel when it comes to range and refuelling.

A number of changes are afoot though and they are changing the balance. Diesel is taking a pummelling after VW's dieselgate scandal and generally bad press for what had been Europe's generally accepted automotive answer to climate change. The decline of diesel share of the German car market is particularly noteworthy (KBA data shows diesel car sales down almost 14% in August, share down to 37.7% and gasoline cars up 15% to a share of 58.4%).

We are also seeing the beginning of the emergence of 48v electrical architecture which makes electrification - starting with some form of electrical assistance to the combustion engine - cheaper to build in. Ultimately, it will help to make full EVs more affordable. As CO2 and emissions rules get tougher and diesel takes a dive, 48v has come along at just the right time.

And there is an important global aspect to consider. Policy makers in the world's largest car market, China, are moving the dial towards electric cars for a number of reasons, not least the need to clean up air quality in China's cities. If China gets it right, there will be ramifications for the global auto industry.

One thing to keep an eye on is official pronouncements from Beijing on the phase-out of combustion engines. Unlike London and Paris, Beijing has not put a date on it yet. Also, there's a balancing act to be achieved on applying EV quotas to China's auto industry; too heavy a hand risks a competitive drag. On the other hand, China's market scale presents a considerable competitive opportunity if electrification is handled deftly. And China is a place where decision-making is not necessarily accompanied by the hand-wringing and debate that ensues elsewhere. Could China come up with an aggressive looking date? Watch that space.

China wants long-term fossil-fuel burning cars ban

GM's CEO has clearly grasped the importance of the policy environment in China

Role of Chinese State vital for NEVs - GM CEO

And our Frankfurt IAA coverage:

Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA) 2017

IAA debut models summary

Until next time...

Dave LeggettDave Leggett
Managing Editor


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