IAA Mobility 2023 – seven Munich Show stars

IAA Mobility 2023 – seven Munich Show stars

Posted by

Andy Bruce

September 2023

I’ve been reflecting on the recent Munich Motor Show in Germany – or, to give the event its proper handle, IAA Mobility 2023 – which has just closed its doors.

Germany is the heart of the European motor industry, so a home show is always important to signal new product, develop new design language and see how far Europe’s car makers are down Electric Avenue.

And then there were the Chinese car makers who are beginning to make themselves felt as a presence in Europe.

Most notable was BYD

BYD is China’s biggest EV maker and launched its Seal U SUV at Munich which will join the Seal hatchback and Dolphin saloon.

The Seal U is not fully electric – it will first arrive as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model – although a fully electric model will follow. Think of it as a Nissan Qashqai alternative, arriving early 2024.

There was plenty of talk around the show of the threat from the Chinese makers. But from our Fleet Alliance point of view, I think the greater choice is welcome and the threat is perhaps overplayed.

Certainly the Europeans are not shirking from this challenge. There was more than a look to the past while continuing to invest in electrification at furious pace.

Typical was the BMW Neue Klasse

The Neue Klasse is a concept model that indicates the direction of future BMWs all of which will be electrified. While unashamedly modern in appearance, the car certainly harks back to its ancestry (think BMW 2002 from the sixties) while offering an interior that uses recycled materials and offers an interface between the virtual and real worlds – we’ll have to wait and discover exactly what BMW means by that. What’s certain is that the car will go 30 per cent further and charge 30 percent quicker than previous BMW EVs, while BMW says its carbon production footprint will be significantly lowered.

The GTI is back – electricfied

I was more than a little excited to see this from Volkswagen – the GTI lives on. Based on the company’s compact ID. 2 model (due 2025) which is Polo sized but with the wheelbase of a Golf, the ID2. GTI has all the classic motifs of Volkwagen’s famous Golf GTI model, including tartan for the interior. The big difference of course is that it will be electric. What stays the same is current GTI performance of at least 220hp. Bring it on Volkswagen!

The Scenic returns

Glancing back at the past was certainly present on the Renault stand where the company revitalised its Scenic model – discontinued in the UK from 2022. Called the Scenic E-Tech the new car is more SUV than MPV but retains its emphasis on family practicality.

And, of course, it’s fully electric with the largest battery version promising some 379 miles which should be enough for most family adventures. Look out for it from 2024.

New-look MINI made in UK

BMW also took the opportunity to show the new MINI hatch and the new SUV-style Countryman, BMW also later announcing that the Oxford plant would be building the new electric hatch.

The MINI Cooper will come in E and SE designations with improved range (190 miles for the E and 250 miles for the SE). The Countryman, which gains in height and length over its Mk2 predecessor, will be offered with both fully electric and petrol drivetrains.     Both MINI and Countryman will be available for delivery from early next year.

Updated Tesla indicates Model 3 changes

No pyrotechnics from Tesla as you might expect from the company that are the trailblazers for electrification, but a sharper-looking Model 3 made its first appearance.

There’s slimmer headlights and revised bumpers for better aerodynamics which have played their part in extending the range of the rear-wheel drive model from 305 miles to 346 miles, while the Long Range model gets a boost of nearly 50 miles to offer an impressive 423 mile range.

Inside the minimalist cabin gets stripped down further with the removal of the indicator stalks to buttons on the steering wheel. I’m not entirely convinced by that, to be honest. We’ll find out if it’s a worthwhile change – or simply confusing – when the first models arrive early next year.

Finally – the new Passat Estate

Amongst all the new SUVs coming to market there have been few estate cars. For fleets, estate cars are really useful for engineers, amongst others, and there’s no more capable than the capacious new Passat Estate (but no saloon this time around).

The new estate has a cargo carrying capacity of up to 1,780-litres of luggage space. It will be available with a choice of petrol or, more importantly, as a petrol-electric hybrid with a zero emission capability of up to 60 miles which should suit fleets nervous of the transition to full electrification.

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