Following the cancellation of the 2020 event, the VDA has launched the 2021 edition of its annual IAA (International Automobile Exhibition) motor show, IAA Mobility, in Germany. This year’s show comes with a revised title and a new venue, the Neue Messe München in Munich, for OEMs from Europe and beyond to showcase their latest concepts, production cars, and technologies.
This article rounds up the most interesting announcements made by some of the most well-known automakers, as well as those from newer players in the European market.
SBD Automotive’s Event Team is now creating the full event report for the Munich show. You can find out more about the Event Series here
For BMW, the IAA motor show represented a chance to showcase its commitment to enhancing sustainability throughout the vehicle lifecycle. This was made most apparent through the announcement and unveiling of its i Vision Circular concept and the iX5 Hydrogen FCEV.
The compact EV, which envisions what vehicle design could resemble in 2040, is produced entirely with fully recyclable materials – including its solid-state battery. The concept’s seat, for instance, can be removed and quickly dismantled to retrieve, re-use and recycle its individual components. Also produced with recyclable materials is the i Vision Circular’s solid-state battery, which provides a higher energy density than the lithium-ion battery packs used today and reduces the use of valuable resources. This emphasis on sustainable design is continued through the vehicle’s interior, where a large pane of glass covers the roof to let more natural light in, and its compatibility with vehicle-to-grid technologies such as bidirectional charging. While infotainment details were not provided, BMW referred to the user’s experience of the instrument display as a ‘phygital’ one, a combination of the physical and digital experiences offered today. Located at the bottom of the windscreen, drivers can customize the content shown on display through interactive touch pads mounted on the steering wheel. BMW confirmed that there were no production plans for the i Vision Circular concept.
Announced a few days before the event, BMW’s iX5 Hydrogen had its full unveiling at IAA Mobility 2021. Much like the i Vision Circular, this FCEV is intended to showcase BMW’s latest innovations within sustainable technology and will not enter production. It exists primarily as a prototype which will be used in live customer trials to study how hydrogen vehicle technologies are used. After this study, these technologies will then be carried over for use in BMW’s series production models. The FCEV takes advantage of a 125kW fuel cell stack developed with Toyota that is fueled by two 700-bar tanks that, together, hold 6kg of hydrogen. This stack then powers a 369hp electric motor and a 150kW battery booster on the rear axle, facilitating a range of 311 miles.
Dacia announced a hybrid version of its new seven-seater, the Jogger, for a 2023 launch following the release of two ICE variants. The new hybrid will combine a 1.6L petrol engine with two electric motors, a multi-mode automatic gearbox and a 1.2kWh battery, enabling electric-only driving across short distances. The new hybrid provides users with a choice of three different infotainment systems. At the lowest level, Media Control offers a smartphone cradle and docking station, enabling the user’s smartphone to be used as the core infotainment system.
Upgrading to the Media Display system provides customers with four speakers, an 8-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and some ADAS features. Lastly, the Media Display builds on the previous system, adding a Wi-Fi enabled wireless connection for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as well as a full navigation system, two USB ports and an upgraded six-speaker audio system.
Hyundai’s presence at this year’s IAA motor show was focused on the private, and commercial, use of autonomous driving technologies in its vehicles.
At the event, Hyundai showcased its Prophecy concept – a conceptual preview of the OEM’s forthcoming Ioniq 6 EV which is set to be announced later this year. Like other vehicles in the Ioniq range, it takes advantage of Hyundai’s E-GMP electric vehicle platform. This allows the concept to natively support 800V charging, enabling compatibility with ultra-fast 350kW chargers and facilitates support for conventional 400V charging. While statistics regarding the Prophecy’s range and acceleration were not disclosed, Hyundai said it would excel in these areas and confirmed that it would deliver 577hp and four-wheel drive. Both the EV’s interior, and its technologies, have been designed heavily around SAE L2 autonomous driving while prioritizing space and refinement. The Prophecy concept has a built-in relax mode, which enables its autonomous functions, reclines the passenger seats, and conceals the dashboard to increase its interior space. The most notable design change here is the replacement of the conventional steering wheel with a pair of levers located on either side of the driver seat. Hyundai says that this design approach improves the driver’s visibility and enhances comfort.
Mercedes-Benz made several announcements and unveiled several new vehicles at the event, including a new concept car and new additions to its EQ range of electric vehicles.
The Concept EQG, for example, reimagines the OEM’s G-Class SUV as an all-electric model and is being showcased as a near-production study. Mercedes-Benz has also said that the concept’s BEV powertrain works to enhance its off-roading capabilities, with power supplied by four controllable motors mounted to each wheel. The instant torque provided by these motors works to enhance pulling power and controllability when off-roading, towing heavy loads and driving on steep inclines. This controllability can also be seen in the EQG’s two-speed gearbox, which offers low-range and high-range gearing. Further details on the Concept EQG’s battery capacity, range and performance were not provided and a release window has not yet been confirmed by Mercedes-Benz.
Due for a staggered launch beginning in mid-2022, the EQE similarly provides an all-electric equal to Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class. The electrified executive will launch as the EQE 350, with a single rear motor powered by a 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack. This combination allows the EV to produce 288hp with 391lb-ft of torque, achieve 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds, and have a maximum range of 410 miles. The EQE integrates a 400V charging system which supports charging speeds of up to 170kW, enabling 155 miles of charge to be gained in 15 minutes. The vehicle will support over-the-air (OTA) updates on launch, facilitating new infotainment features such as a sound mode to emulate the sound of an ICE vehicle, alternate driving modes for younger drivers and technicians, and in-vehicle gaming. Higher-specification models will incorporate a wider range of features, including support for 200kW charging, different battery capacities and motor layouts, and Mercedes-Benz’s new Hyperscreen. The Hyperscreen, which runs on MBUX, encompasses three separate displays under one pane of glass that stretches across the dashboard – a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 17.7-inch infotainment screen, and a 12.3-inch touchscreen that sits in front of the passenger.
Another addition to Mercedes-Benz’s EQ range was the EQB, a compact electric SUV revealed as two variants, the EQB 300 4MATIC and the EQB 350 4MATIC. These 4WD variants both adopt a 66kWh lithium-ion battery, produced by Daimler’s battery subsidiary Accumotive, that can be charged up to 11kW on AC charging and up to 100kW on DC charging. While both vehicles offer a 260-mile range and a top-speed of 99mph, there are differences in the power and acceleration rates of each one. The 300, for example, offers 225hp with 228lb-ft to achieve 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds, while the 350 combines 288hp with 384lb-ft to accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds. Both models are set to launch in Europe and China before the end of 2021, with a US market launch to follow in 2022. Mercedes-Benz have not yet confirmed pricing details of the EQB.
As well as announcing these new vehicles, Mercedes-Benz also announced two new variants for its EQS model from its Maybach and Mercedes-AMG brands – bringing luxury and performance trims to its all-electric saloon. While details on the Maybach variant, called the Mercedes-Maybach Concept EQS, remain scarce, Mercedes-Benz confirmed that it would take several design cues from the brand and incorporate a Maybach-oriented version of its own Hyperscreen infotainment system. No further performance specifications, or a release window, was confirmed for this variant.
The Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4MATIC is the first EV from Mercedes’ performance brand. At the center is a 120kWh battery pack, of which 107.8kWh is usable, that powers two custom motors capable of producing 648hp with 701lb-ft. Together, they enable the EV to accelerate from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. When the EQS 53 4MATIC is fitted with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus pack, it offers 761hp with 742lb-ft of torque and an acceleration speed of 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds as part of a Race Start mode with boost function. The interior sees the Hyperscreen infotainment system installed as standard which, for this variant, includes an exclusive AMG Track Pace feature that records a variety of vehicle data and displays lap times when, for example, driving on a racetrack. The Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4MATIC is also equipped with a 400V charging system with a maximum charging capacity of 200kW, enabling 186 miles of charge to be replenished in 15 minutes against a total range estimated between 326 to 359 miles.
At the core of Renault’s IAA 2021 offerings was its Renaulution strategy, which aims to expand its present vehicle range to include a larger variety of EVs.
Its flagship vehicle for representing this strategy was the 2022 Renault Megane E-Tech Electric, which is due to release in early 2022. The FWD electric SUV sports a skateboard-style battery arrangement and is the first Renault vehicle to run on the Alliance’s CMF-EV platform (following the Nissan Ariya). Customers are provided with a choice of two trims. One offers a 128hp output, a battery size of 40kWh and a range of 186-miles, while the higher-level trim offers 215hp, a 60kWh battery and a 292-mile range as well as an acceleration speed of 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds. Both cars support a fast-charging capability of up to 130kW, enabling the battery to be charged from 15% to 80% in 30 minutes. Inside, the Megane E-Tech Electric’s OpenR infotainment system provides an L-shaped infotainment arrangement of a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. The system runs Android Automotive natively, delivering Google applications such as Google Maps, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store as standard.
Also revealed by the firm was a Renault 5 EV concept, the first in a series of cars designed as a homage to its older models. The concept takes advantage of a customized version of the CMF-EV platform made for smaller EVs, which enables a cost reduction of 33% against today’s Zoe models, and a range of 248 miles. Also working to reduce the EV’s cost are its nickel, manganese, and cobalt-based batteries. Renault confirmed that its performance brand Alpine are working on a performance variant of the concept, which will adopt the same 215hp powertrain as the 2022 Megane. The concept is set to launch in 2024 with an estimated price of £18,500 (€21,602).
Smart, which recently became a joint venture between Daimler and Geely, debuts its Smart Concept #1 EV at IAA 2021. The all-electric crossover SUV represents Smart’s commitment to exclusively releasing EVs and releasing larger cars in its future. The concept also stands as an evolution to its previous Formore concept vehicle. Built on Geely’s SEA electric vehicle platform, the Concept #1 incorporates a number of technologies and solutions centered around it. These include support for fast-charging and OTA updates, long-range driving, and a next-generation infotainment system featuring a 12.8-inch touchscreen. While details on the vehicle’s performance and price have not yet been disclosed, Smart confirmed that the vehicle would be produced in China. It will then launch in China next year before a wider release in Europe.
The Volkswagen Group provided a range of new concepts and EVs to IAA from its wide brand portfolio, including new offerings from CUPRA, Audi and Porsche as well as technology demonstrations from its software arm, CARIAD.
The announcements from Volkswagen centered around two new additions to its ID. range of EVs. The first was the ID.Life concept, a smaller electric crossover aimed at younger drivers in urban areas. The concept is a preview of the ID.2 and sports a price range between €20,000 to €25,000. The FWD concept is based on a modified version of its MEB platform to be used in the development of EVs in the small car segment. Here, the platform utilizes a 62kWh battery in conjunction with a 231hp electric motor to achieve 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 112mph. The ID. Life concept is also capable of a maximum range of 249 miles and, through its compatibility with DC fast charging, can replenish up to 101 miles of this range in 10 minutes. The crossover also comes with a range of technologies that work to facilitate comfort and security. While conventional OTA updates are offered as standard, the concept does away with a traditional dashboard display in favor of a wooden dock that drivers can place their phone or tablet onto, which can then be used to run the infotainment system. Other comfort and convenience features include a projection screen that extends from the dashboard, folding seats to enable numerous vehicle configurations, and a yoke steering wheel with haptic buttons. For security, the concept is equipped with cameras and a display which replace the rear-view mirror and a facial recognition system which utilizes a camera to detect users and grant them access to the vehicle.
Supporting this concept is the autonomous version of the ID. BUZZ, a prototype version of the MPV that utilizes autonomous software from Argo AI. The prototype features an array of cameras and sensors (including LiDAR and radar sensors) that enable Argo AI’s software to develop 360-degree maps of the vehicle’s surroundings. Argo says that this makes the MPV capable of detecting objects from more than 400m away and predict the actions of pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles, which can then enable it to adapt accordingly. Volkswagen also announced its plans to incorporate the autonomous ID. BUZZ into its Moira ride-sharing service from 2025, with operations beginning in Hamburg, Germany. Prototypes of the concept are currently being tested in several urban environments, including Munich.
Further along the Volkswagen Group, CUPRA unveiled its UrbanRebel concept. The racing-inspired concept is envisioned as an electric hatch built on the MEB Entry platform, which will underpin a range of small EVs from the Group. While full details of the UrbanRebel’s powertrain were not disclosed, CUPRA confirmed that it would offer 335hp of power, with a peak output of 429hp in certain situations, and go from 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds. The production version of the UrbanRebel is set to launch in 2025.
Also set for a 2025 launch is Audi’s Grandsphere concept. One of three Sphere concepts, the Grandsphere is said to be the closest to production and will replace the A8. The concept is underpinned by the PPE platform, co-developed with Porsche, which encompasses a 120kWh battery capable of 270kW charging speeds and a range of 466 miles. The battery then powers a twin-motor 4WD powertrain capable of producing 711hp with 708lb-ft of torque and go from 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds. The car’s infotainment system prioritizes convenience and provides the user with what Audi refers to as a digital detox – with no visible screens, dials or physical controls present on entry. When the vehicle is switched on, projections across the interior show relevant data and provide a custom display for the passenger. A sensor bar underneath the concept’s central display allows users to switch between menu tabs, alongside a rotary MMI button on the center console. The vehicle also takes advantage of biometric sensor systems, including eye tracking and gesture controls, to allow the driver to stay in control of the vehicle during its autonomous driving mode. In this mode, which Audi says provides SAE Level 4 autonomy, the car’s interior space is extended to provide an comfortable environment similar to a lounge while the steering wheel and pedals are retracted into the vehicle.
Porsche also took to IAA 2021 to announce the Mission R concept, an all-electric racing EV. The system is powered by two electric motors (one on each axle) that produced a combined output of 1072hp in the EV’s qualifying mode. In normal operations, it produces a constant output of 670hp, achieves 0-60mph in less than 2.5 seconds and measures a top speed of 186mph. The concept’s 80kWh battery pack comes as part of a wider 900V electric system that facilitates a charging rate of up to 340kW.
In addition to its automotive brands, the Volkswagen Group’s software arm, CARIAD, is also present at this year’s event – marking the company’s first international automotive show. It will have a multi-layered presence at IAA 2021, holding a dedicated press conference as well as several software-focused talks and presentations from executive members of CARIAD’s team.
CARIAD also has its own booth at the show where participants can learn more about the technologies it offers and the milestones it has achieved. Participants also have the chance to experience these technologies for themselves through live demonstrations of CARIAD’s automated valet parking (AVP) technology at Messe West parking garage. This experience, demonstrated by CARIAD’s software team throughout the day, sees a low-speed autonomous system maneuver and park cars without a driver behind the wheel.
Alongside the high-profile global OEMs, the 2021 IAA show also granted reveals from smaller OEMs and start-ups. One of these is City Transformer – an Israeli firm who revealed a small urban EV called the City Transformer. Designed for use within cities, the car uses two 7.5kW electric motors to deliver a top speed of 55mph and a range of 111 miles. When Folded City mode is enabled, the EV’s compact design allows its users to park in smaller spaces that would be difficult to access in a conventional car (up to four City Transformers can fit into one standard parking space). Likewise, its performance mode expands the car’s width to 1.4 meters to provide users with a more traditional driving experience. Ahead of its 2024 consumer launch, pre-orders for the compact EV are open – starting from €12,500 (£10,716) during the pre-order window and increasing to €16,000 (£13,719) after this window.
In addition to concept reveals from the above OEMs, Continental – a supplier of car parts and technologies – showcased its own comfort-oriented concept in the form of AmbienC3. The concept sees the supplier fit a number of conceptual material solutions onto a Volkswagen T2 van. Laif, for example, is a breathable synthetic leather which allows air and water vapor to pass through while remaining soft to the touch and self-regulating regarding temperature. Staynu, used on the driver seat, is very resistant to dirt and stains. Other materials in the concept are capable of generating heat and others utilize self-healing properties to resist abrasion. AmbienC3 ultimately showcases the materials Continental could adopt in future vehicles as the concept of the vehicle as a ‘third space’ alongside the office and home continues to grow in popularity.
Dolby Laboratories, a provider in immersive entertainment experiences and Cinemo, a provider of automotive infotainment middleware, have announced a collaboration aimed at accelerating the integration of Dolby Atmos, into vehicles. Announced at IAA Mobility during Dolby’s panel on how the immersive sound technology is set to drive a revolution for in car entertainment, the collaboration also means that Cinemo has become the very first middleware licensee globally of the Dolby Car Experience.
Valeo presents six technologies innovations that address the need for safer, cleaner and more diverse mobility. The innovations include vital sign detector, Automated Valet Parking system, new smart lighting system, eAutomatic electric system, thermal management and new charging stations.
IAA Mobility 2021 saw the premier of Mobilize’s Limo vehicle, an all-electric saloon tailored for commercial use. It is the first model from Mobilize, a joint venture between the Renault Group and Jiangling Motors, and is only available through a subscription service operated by the brand. The subscription itself offers both the vehicle and a variety of services designed for full-time, part-time, and one-off drivers of taxis, PHVs and other transport services. Mobilize has said that for fleet operators, it will leverage its network of partner start-ups to offer a variety of features that work to conventional use cases within the sector – such as fleet dispatching, payment, vehicle charging and connectivity. The brand confirmed that all its packages would include warrantees, maintenance, car insurance, and solutions for EV charging.
The Limo has a single 110kW motor, capable of producing 150hp, that powers a 60kWh lithium-ion battery compatible with both AC and DC charging. This enables the EV to deliver 162lb-ft of instant torque and a top speed of 87mph. It is also capable of replenishing 150 miles of the car’s maximum 280-mile range in 40 minutes, which Mobilize says is the average daily mileage for drivers in the mobility sector. The Limo’s infotainment system is largely hosted on a 12.3-inch central touchscreen and 10.25-inch instrument panel. The touchscreen is compatible with smartphone mirroring solutions, such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – reflecting the use of smartphones by mobility drivers. A dedicated Limo app provides the driver with key vehicle information and can be used to lock/unlock the EV’s doors, control the HVAC and schedule charging times.
It is equipped with a range of ADAS features as standard, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Deviation Warning, Front Collision Warning, Pedestrian Collision Warning, Advanced Emergency Braking, Traffic Sign Recognition, Around View Monitor, front and rear parking sensors, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and a Door Opening Alarm. It also utilizes a VSP (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrian) system that warns pedestrians and other vehicles of the car’s presence and is active at speeds under 19mph and when the Limo’s Drive mode is enabled. Passengers can benefit from the Limo’s luxury features, including a refrigerator near the center console, a removable middle arm rest with two cup holders and a 411-liter loading capacity.
Following its reveal, a fleet of 40 Limo EVs will be deployed by Mobilize across several European cities for testing ahead of its launch in the second half of 2022.
The key focus for Mobileye at IAA 2021 was autonomous driving – most notably through the reveal of its new Robotaxi. The six-seater AV, produced by NIO, has a maximum speed of 80mph (130km/h) and has been built for use in commercial driverless services – such as the autonomous transportation of people and goods – in Tel Aviv & Munich.
It is equipped with the Intel subsidiary’s Mobileye Drive self-driving system, which adopts eight of its EyeQ 5 SoCs (system-on-chip) and features a suite of ADAS. At the centre is Mobileye’s True Redundancy system, which features an array of 360-degree cameras, radar sensors, and a series of LiDAR sensors provided by Luminar. The Mobileye Drive system also takes advantage of Mobileye’s Roadbook mapping solution for autonomous vehicles and its Responsibility-Sensitive Safety driving policy – which supports fast scaling to different regions around the world alongside the driving cultures within those regions.
Mobileye’s robotaxi, which has yet to be named, will predominantly be used in a robotaxi ride-hailing which will be jointly operated by Mobileye, Sixt (a German vehicle rental company) and Moovit (a fellow Intel subsidiary specializing in mobility data solutions). While a specific launch window has not yet been confirmed for the service, Mobileye did confirm that early rider testing would begin in Munich in 2022. It chose to conduct testing in the city based on a law passed in Germany last May that permitted autonomous driving in designated areas with a safety driver behind the wheel. During its testing phase, Mobileye’s robotaxi will adhere to these guidelines, aligning with SAE Level 2 autonomy. Once the robotaxi has received regulatory approval from the German government, Mobileye intend to shift to commercial operations and remove the safety driver from the AV – the firm is hoping to achieve these goals by the end of 2022.