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Frankfurt To Feature Electric Muscle, Styling Finesse

By EV World Editorial Staff

We already know a lot and a little about some of the concept cars taking their bow at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany next week. Here are four of them.

The opening of Frankfurt auto show next week heralds the start of the international car show season and the unveiling of automakers' latest line of offerings, as well as the musings in metal of their design teams.

In the case of the Frankfurt show, we already know a lot (Audi Sport Quatttro Concept) and a little (Kia Niro) about some of the concept cars that will be on display, at least three of them having some form of electric drive system from conventional hybrid to electric (plug-in) hybrid. Featured below are four of those vehicles.

Audi Sport Quattro concept

Audi Sport Quattro Concept

With the hint Chevrolet Camaro in its lines, the Sport Quattro Concept (dash and profile also featured above) offers 700 horsepower and 800 Nm of torque from its combination of a four-liter, twin-turbo V8 power petrol engine in concert with a 110 kW electric motor. Bolted between the IC engine and the car's eight-speed triptronic transmission, the e-motor adds its own 400 Nm (295 ft lbs) of torque, giving it 0-100 km/hr (62 mph) acceleration of 3.7 seconds, which of course, you almost never use, unless you're seriously into illegally drag-racing off stop lights. Top speed is also a totally illegal 305 km/h or 189.52 mph.

No, the real magic, in our view, is its EV-mode capability: up to 50 km (37 miles) on its 14.1 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery. Unlike American electric hybrids such as the Volt or Fusion Energi, where the car must always operate first as an EV and then, once the battery depletes, switch to hybrid mode, the Sport Quattro driver can select when to operate in either mode with what Audi calls an "active accelerator."

Not that Audi is leaving all the guess work to the driver, who, with all that power at his or her command, might find achieving the claimed 2.5L/100 km (94.09 US mpg) difficult to attain, thus leading to yet another round of class action lawsuits?

No, Audi engineers have tied the car's hybrid control system to GPS routing data and exterior environmental sensors that compute the optimal use of the electric motor and combustion engine for fuel efficiency.

"If the driver wants to retain a certain amount of electric range or to drive certain route segments on electric power, they can use the Hold or Charge function to precisely adjust the charge of the battery even without charging from the power grid. "

When operating in Sport mode, range and emissions concerns are tossed out the window and all that power is concentrated on one thing: adrenaline-pumping performance. This is probably as close to driving an Audi LMP-1 car as most mortals will ever get.

Lexus LF-NX concept

Lexus LF-NX Concept

Considerably more sedate in the power arena, but not in the styling one is the Lexus LF-NX, which the company describes as a concept that "explores the potential for a compact crossover within the Lexus model range."

The only thing that Lexus is saying about the drive system on the car is that it is "powered by a new variant of the Lexus Hybrid Drive system tuned for SUV performance." It is the car's sharp, angular sculpture that appears to be the focus of this exercise in trying to create a small SUV for what is becoming a hot market currently being exploited by Kia and Nissan.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R

Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R

What the LF-NX might lack in performance, the Yaris Hybrid-R may make up for with the incorporation of super-capacitor-based energy storage borrowed from Toyota's TS-030 LMP race car - the same technology that has challenged Audi's e-tron Quattro racers two years running at 24 Hours of Le Mans, placing second and fourth at the finish line.

The advantage of using a supercapacitor, also known as an ultracapacitor, is its ability to quickly store and release electrical energy, far faster than a chemical battery. This means more of the car's kinetic energy is captured during braking and released for rapid acceleration. So, expect the Yaris Hybrid-R to be performance-focused, not efficiency-focused.

Kia Niro concept

Kia Niro

And then there's the Kia Niro with its mysterious 'innovative new powertrain' - whatever that means. Our guess is that it's some form of tweaked ICE-age engine rather than a hybrid, plug-in, or fuel cell. One possibility is a dual-fuel internal combustion engine that can burn either petrol or compressed natural gas, but that's only a wildly - and likely - inaccurate guess.

Despite coming from a Korean carmaker, the Niro was, in fact, styled in the company's design studio in Frankfurt, not far from the site of the auto show.

Will there be other EV innovations unveiled next week? Undoubtedly. Certainly, Ford will be there, having announced that it will be producing all three of its e-drive models in Europe for the first time: Fusion, C-Max, and Focus. Volkswagen will be showing off both its up! and Golf electric cars and we can probably count on a strong French contingent from Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroen. Perhaps even SEAT will have their own electric hybrid on display.

But we're betting there will be surprises as well. We'll see starting September 10th.

Times Article Viewed: 9364
Originally published: 04 Sep 2013

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