Paris Motor Show: Manufacturers gear-up for an EV arms race

The opening weekend of the Paris Motor Show showcased the sector's developing evolution towards a low-carbon and electrified state, as companies such as Renault, Mercedes and the 'dirty man' of the sector Volkswagen introduce new concepts.

For the past 10 months the city of Paris has acted as the fabled birthplace of one of the largest global movements ever witnessed. The historic Paris Agreement to limit and combat climate change will come into force next month, but as October proves, the city continues to create platforms for the low-carbon transition.

From October 1 – 16 the world’s biggest and most innovative car manufacturers will occupy the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris to highlight what facelifts, concepts and vehicles look set to dominate the sector in the future.

It may be just five days into the Paris Motor Show, but already the trend is clear. It appears the car makers have established that the future of mobility lies in the driving seats of electric vehicles (EVs). With Paris banning cars built before 1997 from entering the city in order to combat air pollution, it is fitting that the French capital is showcasing how EVs will populate the roads.

With this in mind, edie has rounded-up what vehicle manufacturers, both established and disruptive, have unveiled as part of a global transition to cleaner transport.


The growth of EVs has been led by companies such as Nissan and Tesla highlighting that the electrification of cars is no longer a niche market. However, the accelerated transition towards low-carbon vehicles has inadvertently been aided by the revelations uncovered during Volkswagen’s (VW) ‘dieselgate’ fiasco.

Alongside causing nearly one million tonnes of extra pollution, the scandal led to numerous enquiries of diesel cars – with the results suggesting that the majority of vehicles are in breach of emissions standards.

While the fallout from dieselgate rolls on, VW has since shifted its business mantra and pledged to make EVs the “hallmark” of its portfolio by 2020. The Paris Motor Show finally allowed this pledge to bear fruit, as VW unveiled its first EV concept the I.D.

The company’s first purely-electric design – unlike the e-Golf which offers gas-powered capabilities – the I.D will utilise floor-iterated flat battery packs by the time it is ready for commercialisation in 2020 and will add autonomous driving features in 2025. Not much else is known about the concept at this stage.


VW’s Porsche division is also revamping its portfolio. During the Paris Motor Show the company unveiled the new Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid which has a measured CO2 emissions reading of 56g/km – well under the EU limit of 180 mg/km – and a claimed economy figure of 113mpg.

Once the engine is switched on, the Panamera E-Hybrid will start in a “pure electric mode”, but drivers will have the choice to toggle between E-Hold mode – used to maintain battery charge – and an E-Charge mode to conserve power and charge the battery, as well as a Hybrid Auto mode.

The Hybrid Auto mode allows the car to choose its preferred power source based on current battery levels and driving conditions. Able to travel up to 31 miles on a single charge, Porsche claim the E-Hybrid is ideal for urban transport and could be on the roads by 2017.


Acting as one of the lynchpins of the EV sector due to its alliance with Nissan, Renault also took to the stage in Paris to unveil updates to the ZOE model, as well as a preview of a new two-seater electric coupé.

The company’s flagship ZOE vehicle looks set to be updated with the redesigned version capable of travelling 300km on a single charge. This would place it in the same travel range as the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3.

The company also previewed the Trezor, a high-performance electric two-seater GT concept that consists of an autonomous mode, two batteries and a single 350bhp Formula E motor. While the vehicle isn’t set to appear in showrooms, it highlights how smartphones can interact with vehicles, as the majority of features – including automatic cooling scoops for the battery – can be controlled by apps.


The ideate behind a “supercar” is one of a slick, two-door vehicle powered by huge engines to generate eye-watering top speeds. All of this doesn’t exactly create an enabling environment for the electrification of vehicles, but Japanese manufacturers GLM have modified a design, originally tailored for a V-8 engine, into the electric supercar of the future.

The GLM G4 utilises a twin-motor electric powertrain to create 400kW – or 536 horsepower – to drive from 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds and can reach top speeds of 155mph. Not only is this uncharted territory for an EV, it’s also an unusual feature of a four-door vehicle which the G4 also acts as.

Expected to go on sale in Japan, Hong Kong and in Singapore – with plans also mooted for a rollout in the US – it is claimed that the $224,000 vehicle can achieve a driving range of up to 248 miles.


Attempts by Mercedes to re-introduce the Maybach range after a half-a-century absence has been met with resistance from the general public. Design flaws and poor aesthetics of versions 57 and 62 in the early 2000s led to less than 3,000 being sold.

But the Paris Motor Show showcased the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, a six-metre long, all-electric vehicles capable of 750bhp with a driving range of 300 miles. Mercedes claims that the vehicle can be completely recharged – with an extra 60 miles added – in just five minutes.

The show also revealed that a new Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept EV is also in the works, with a manufacturing timeframe scheduled for 2019. The Generation EQ design can be fitted across a variety of vehicles, but the car maker wants the Benz to take on Tesla. The vehicle will also support autonomous features.

General Motors

Dubbed the “rival to the Nissan LEAF”, General Motors’ Opel Ampera-e vehicles was officially unveiled at the show. Despite the company’s Vauxhall facilities managing to go landfill-free across Europe, it seems that a Vauxhall EV rollout version across the continent isn’t likely to follow.

Due to engineering pricing, Vauxhall is unwilling to re-badge the model in the UK. The five-door EV can reach an estimated 250 miles on a single charge. An additional 90 miles can also be added during a 30-minute fast charge.

In comparison, the new Nissan LEAF and its larger 30kWh battery range can reach 155 miles on a single charge. But the lack of activity in the UK market means Vauxhall is unlikely to make-ground on the EV frontrunners.

Matt Mace

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