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The Germans Are Coming for Tesla

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion in San Francisco ; Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion in San Francisco;
Self-driving luxury. Mercedez-Benz is testing the futuristic F 015.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Tesla Motors has stolen a profitable niche from German luxury carmakers. Now, they are fighting back.

  • Facts


    • Global sales of electric cars jumped 49 percent in the first half of 2016, but still make up less than 1 percent of the market.
    • Tesla has soared past the German carmakers to become the No. 3 selling e-car brand, after Nissan and China’s BYD.
    • At the Paris Auto Salon, the major German brands presented a flurry of new long-range, all-electric models, including the mass-market Volkswagen I.D. and the Audi Q6 SUV.
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  • Pdf

Who stole the show at this year’s Paris Auto Salon? Perhaps it was the Mercedes-Benz EQ, introduced to the gawking motor press by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche as one of 10 new plug-in electric cars that the carmaker plans to have on the road by 2025. It might have been the muscular Audi Q6 e-Tron, an all-electric SUV with a range of 500 kilometers that will hit showrooms in early 2018. Or maybe it was the Volkswagen I.D., set for delivery by 2020. Volkswagen says the I.D. will have a powerful 168-horsepower engine, drive almost twice as far as the planned Tesla Model 3 and come at the price of a mass-market Golf.

The message from September’s elite car fest: The Germans are coming for Tesla. In Paris, the major German automakers unveiled an unprecedented flurry of new e-car models, battery upgrades and concept cars. Porsche added a fresh version of its Panamera plug-in hybrid to the mix; BMW’s i3 will get a long-awaited battery upgrade next year; and Opel, General Motors’ German unit, showed off the 2017 Ampera-e, a Chevy Bolt that’s been redesigned for the European market. Amid all the futuristic technology, there was even a concept car for the retro-minded; Volkswagen is morphing its hippie-era microbus into a 21st-century all-electric van.

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