Geneva-ish motor show roundup
BMW i4

Geneva-ish motor show roundup

The show might have been cancelled, but automakers still showed off several upcoming electric vehicles.

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Cleveland, Ohio – Rapidly spreading COVID-19 cases in Europe might have cancelled the Geneva International Motor Show, but automakers had new electric vehicles (EVs) that they wanted to show off, so several of them have had webcasts and other unveilings in recent days.

Major announcements include:

BMW i4 (pictured above)

Every new electric car wins the Tesla-killer tag from some reviewer, and several are applying to BMW’s upcoming sporty coupe. That title ignores the excellent BMW i3 which beat Tesla’s Model 3 to the market by nearly a year for about the same price but failed to gain much traction.

Set for sale next year, the i4 is bigger than the i3 and more of a daily driving car than the i8 roadster. The big draw, though, will likely be its power rating. BMW is promising 390kW/530hp performance and a 270-mile range from the 80kWh battery.

BMW plans to make the car in Munich, Germany, a project expected to cost about $220 million in facility upgrades. Most of the car can be assembled on Munich’s existing lines, but the company needs specialized equipment to mount the massive battery pack under the car’s rear structure. So, the investment will go to removing existing equipment, upgrading existing lines to make up for those lost machines, and installing new battery-installation gear in the space that held more traditional assembly gear.

Volkswagen ID.4 

Courtesy of Volkswagen
VW ID.4

Formerly the ID CROZZ, VW’s first EV crossover launches in Europe this year from VW’s Zwickau, Germany, plant and will begin production in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2022.

VW has invested heavily in a design called the modular electric drive matrix (MEB), a basic vehicle architecture that can be modified for a range of differently sized vehicles. So, the ID.4 will share many components and systems with the ID.3 that launched in Europe late last year.

The crossover will have about a 310-mile range, but VW hasn’t yet shared performance numbers for the crossover. The ID.3 starts at about $33,000 in Europe. VW hasn’t yet set prices for the upcoming ID.4.

Courtesy of Hyundai
Hyundai Prophecy

Hyundai Prophecy

A concept car that may never enter production, Hyundai’s Prophecy is an attempt at a premium, luxurious, sporty EV sedan. More of a showcase for visual designs and interior creature comforts, Hyundai offered no performance or range specifications for the Prophecy.

The body, designed to be as aerodynamic as possible is highly rounded and, well, more than a bit familiar looking. Hyundai says the design offers “pristine surfaces and pure volume in combination with aesthetic harmony and functionality.”

I see a 2010s-era Volkswagen Beetle that’s been stretched at the edges to be more oval and less circle. Compressing the vehicle image by about 40% really highlights the Prophecy’s similarity to the off-the-market VW.

Compressed version of the Hyundai Prophecy (left), 2015 Volkswagen Beetle (right).

Hyundai officials have not announced any plans to make the Prophecy, but the company is expanding EV production of the Kona EV crossover to feed growing electric demand.

Ford Transit

One of the best-selling commercial van models in the world, the Transit will have an EV model for 2022 – about the same time Ford plans an EV F-150 pickup.

Ford builds the Transit in Kansas City, Missouri, and several locations outside of the U.S. The electric van will come from the U.S. plant, company officials said.

The automaker didn’t share details on specs, but that’s particularly difficult for commercial vans that have more size and shape options than most vehicles. The Transit has three roof heights, three length options, several wheelbase offerings, and drive options that could all impact battery sizing and placement.

That said, commercial vans are good candidates for electrification because they have more space for batteries than passenger cars, and the flat floors in the cargo area make battery arrangement simpler than in other types of vehicles.

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and Today's eMobility and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 19 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.

rschoenberger@gie.net