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Electric cars strut their stuff in Frankfurt Motor Show

The IAA Frankfurt Motor Show, kicking off Thursday, will pit the latest electric cars equipped with the best environmental credentials and designs.

High-end brands including BMW, Audi and Volkswagen will showcase the next-generation cars at one of the largest motor shows in the world held biannually.

BMW will introduce its i3 concept car, a small and “affordable” electric car scheduled to go into production starting 2013. The all-electric city car is perhaps the most advanced take on the electric vehicle from BMW, a much more complete take than the Megacity concept car that preceded it. 
BMW i3 concept
BMW i3 concept

To make its battery more efficient, it has filled the bottom half of the i3 with lightweight aluminum, with a Life passenger compartment on the top. It was designed to make the vehicle as light as possible which is important to raise the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries often criticized as too heavy, big, and expensive to commercialize.

Replacing gasoline with environmentally friendly power options has become obligatory with international push to meet stricter energy standards. The latest push in Korea came last week when the government announced up to 6 million won ($5,569) of fresh tax credits for buyers of electric cars starting next year.

The i3 will be capable of reaching 100 kph in 7.9 seconds. It has a single-speed transmission.

BMW said when i3 goes on sale in 2013, it will be priced at about $35,000 under current exchange rates.

Audi will compete with BMW’s i3 with its Urban Spyder Concept car, a two-seater vehicle that runs on two electric motors with a lithium-ion battery pack. The small electric car aims to be an urban commuter popular among young drivers looking for radical designs. Two versions are available of this concept, one a hardtop and the other a roadster. The production date is not available yet. Audi will also introduce its A2 concept car with an electric power train adopted in it, which will be a little shorter but wider than the original A2.
Audi Urban Spyder concept
Audi Urban Spyder concept
Volkswagen Up (red)
Volkswagen Up (red)

From Volkswagen, an electric version of the Up will be showcased. The new compact car is tiny, just 3.54 meters long, and will first be available in diesel and natural gas versions with fuel consumption of 3.2 liters per 100 km. The electric version will go on sale from 2013.

Other details of the electric version will be available at the motor show.

Korean carmakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. will debut medium-sized hatchback the i30, and the i40, and the BlueOn electric car.

By Cynthia J. Kim (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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