Automakers vow not to give up on electric

Top automakers are vowing not to give up on weak-selling electric vehicles – even as they unveil an array of powerful luxury cars with conventional engines aimed at a growing global automarket.


BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer says that his company cannot do without battery-powered vehicles such as its i3 urban compact.

“In the future, electric drive vehicles will be in demand,” he said at the Geneva International Motor Show, adding that the Munich-based automaker could not meet its targets to reduce emissions without them.

Only about 75,000 of the 12.5 million vehicles sold last year in Europe were electrics or hybrids.

Still, auto companies have sunk billions into developing alternative propulsion vehicles over the long term, due to government requirements to limit vehicle emissions and with an eye to restrictions on autos in China due to heavy air pollution.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said hybrids combining internal combustion and batteries were “truly attractive cars that represent the best of both worlds” and serve as a bridge to future no-emissions vehicles.

He cautioned, however, that the long-life batteries needed for electrics to conquer the market are at least five years off.

Daimler introduced a rechargeable plug-in hybrid of its C-class sedan.

The calls to keep developing alternative-drive cars come even as high-end sports cars take pride of place at this year’s Geneva show.

Lamborghini, Ferrari, Audi and McLaren all are unveiling high-speed machines costing hundreds of thousands, while Daimler has the Maybach Pullman stretch limousine, which will go on sale for north of 500,000 euros ($A715,154.12).

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn stressed his company’s commitment to new technologies even as the company’s Lamborghini brand showed off its Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce, a sleek beast of a sports car with an enormous 750 horsepower and a top speed of over 350km/h).

Volkswagen also unveiled a concept sport coupe that’s hybrid driven and can reach 93km/h.