When the International Motor Show begins in Frankfurt this week, much will be the same as usual. German automakers will promote their products: big, powerful, comfy cars. But they will also tout their future viability by unveiling elegant electric cars suitable for everyday use. There’s just one problem: Carmakers cannot deliver on those promises today.
We’ve seen this before: Car companies are good at making their money with one product, while presenting another to sell the illusion of change. This is a simple, convenient contradiction that consumers, industry and policymakers have gladly accepted in the auto sector – until now, that is.
The industry is truly on the brink of radical change, and the consequences are taking shape. While consumers in Frankfurt marvel at the features of the latest SUVs, German cities are thinking of banning the diesel engines used in those vehicles. And while Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW present their electric cars for the next decade, challenger Tesla is already mass-producing its own models.