Some Electric Winners at Frankfurt

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France’s Renault SA stole the spotlight at the Frankfurt Motor Show, unveiling four electric cars and pledging to bring them to market at reasonable prices within three years.

These spicy winners steamed the competition when Renault stepped up and led the buzz parade. The name of the game in Frankfurt was electric. Gas is passé and the press is impressed by top-tier designs that embrace the passion of electric car technology.

Most automakers displayed concept or production vehicles demonstrating advances in electric car technology, which has emerged as a dominant theme of the show. Volkswagen revealed an e-Up electric show car along with new sporty cars loaded with horsepower, and PSA Peugeot Citroen showed an electric car based on Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s i-MiEV, already on sale in Japan.

“I think it’s going to come quicker than people anticipate,” Nick Reilly, General Motors Co.’s executive vice president for international operations, said of the electrification of cars.

GM’s German carmaker Adam Opel GmbH displayed an Ampera model that uses the extended range electric vehicle technology seen in the Chevrolet Volt.

Shared technology and common underpinnings were another show theme: Ford displayed a C-Max car built on architecture that will be seen in nine other Ford models, including the next Focus. Opel unveiled a snappy Astra car whose architecture will be seen on all GM compacts.

Renault, along with its Japanese affiliate Nissan Motor Co., has outlined plans for the most aggressive rollout of electric cars. Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of both Renault and Nissan, said Renault’s electric cars would be priced so that the cost of ownership would be similar to or less than the cost of owning a diesel-powered car in Europe today. Diesels cost slightly more than gas-powered cars, but provide much better fuel economy.

“What’s at stake today is not getting 20 or 30 percent fuel economy improvements. It’s to have cars with no emissions at all,” Ghosn said.

Renault pulled the wraps off a Twizy ZE, a tiny city car that resembles the Nissan Pivo electric vehicle concept; two sedans, the Zoe ZE and the full-size Fluence ZE; and an electric version of the boxy Kangoo. “ZE” stands for “zero emission.”

Top photo: A hostess poses for photographers in a Citroen during the 63rd Frankfurt International Motor Show. Photograph by : THOMAS LOHNES

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