This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

September 19, 2007

Frankfurt Auto Show Features Hybrids, Fuel Cells, and Minis

European automakers demonstrated a new interest in hybrid and electric vehicles at the Frankfurt Auto Show, held in early September, while automakers of all nationalities showed a strong interest in small cars. For example, Mercedes-Benz arrived at the show with seven hybrids, including a luxury sedan concept vehicle called the F 700, a 17-foot-long car that achieves a fuel economy of 44.4 miles per gallon (mpg). The research vehicle features a homogenous charge compression ignition engine, a technology that produces the high fuel economy of a diesel engine from a clean-burning gasoline engine. Mercedes has also mated its clean-diesel engine to an electric motor, creating the Bluetec hybrid. The company plans to introduce a gasoline-fueled hybrid SUV and sedan in 2009, followed by two Bluetec hybrids in 2010, one of which will achieve 51 miles per gallon of diesel fuel. The company also plans to start the limited production of its first fuel-cell vehicle in 2010. In addition, the Mercedes Car Group exhibited its smart car in three new incarnations: an electric-only vehicle and both diesel and gasoline versions with "micro hybrid drive," a belt-driven starter and alternator that allows the engine to shut off at stops. See the DaimlerChrysler press releases about the auto show and the F700.

Photo of the Ford Verve, a two-seat vehicle with a low nose and a high back, with a windshield that arcs back to a glass roof.

The Ford Verve concept may indicate the company's future direction for small cars.
Credit: Ford Motor Company

Opel, a division of General Motors Corporation, exhibited the Flextreme, a plug-in hybrid that can travel 34 miles on its lithium-ion battery before a small diesel engine starts charging the battery. Opel also exhibited the Corsa Hybrid Concept, a coupe that combines a belt-driven starter and alternator with a lithium-ion battery. Volvo Cars, a division of Ford Motor Company, exhibited a plug-in hybrid with motors in each of the wheels. The Volvo ReCharge Concept can travel about 60 miles on battery power alone, using a lithium-polymer battery pack that can be recharged in a standard outlet. Ford also exhibited the Ford Verve Concept, a stylish small car billed as "the first sign of what the future may hold." See GM press releases about the Corsa Hybrid and the Opel Flextreme and the press releases from Volvo and Ford.

Asian automakers were also present at the show, and even unveiled some world premieres. Hyundai unveiled its third-generation fuel-cell vehicle, the i-Blue crossover vehicle. And Toyota introduced the iQ concept, a vehicle that looks much like a smart car, but seats three adults "in comfort." The company also exhibited two new models of its Yaris subcompact. See the press releases from Hyundai and Toyota.