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Best concept cars of the 2015 Frankfurt motor show


Hybrid or plug-in, practical or fanciful, show ponies are shapes of things to come.

Electrified cars are coming ... again. Some of Frankfurt's best concepts were 100 per cent battery powered or plug-in hybrids. What's different this time around is that the show ponies often point to the shape of production cars to come.

Practical versions of the battery-powered Audi e-tron quattro and Porsche Mission E, along with the plug-in hybrid Concept IAA of Mercedes-Benz, are headed for German assembly lines. Audi and Porsche are both part of the VW Group, Europe's biggest car maker.

A car that gets longer the faster you go? The Concept IAA's rear end extends almost 40cm above 80km/h, cutting wind resistance

"Before the end of the decade we will be launching 20 new plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles," said VW Group chairman Martin Winterkorn.

"We believe in electromobility," said VW brand boss Herbert Diess. They are working, he added, on "the electric car for everyone".

Related: Top production cars of the 2015 Frankfurt motor show
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Europe is realising that Toyota and Nissan, pioneers of petrol-electric hybrid and mass market battery car tech, were on to something with the Prius and the Leaf. Both brands foreshadowed models that will take their expertise into the booming global market for small SUVs.

Porsche Mission E

Clearly the concept star of the show, the Mission E is purely battery-powered and stretches seriously sensual bodywork inspired by the 911 around a four-seat interior. The car "shows how Porsche envisions the future of the electric sports car" — and what Porsche envisions it usually produces. Porsche boss Matthias Muller promises the 450kW car will deliver supercar acceleration — as in sub-3.3 secs for 0-100km/h — and 500km between recharges. "Driving in a sporty way, please note that," Muller added.

Audi e-tron quattro concept

A very similar, sleek, battery-powered sports SUV will go into production in 2018. It will be built alongside other large Audi SUVs, says technical development chief Ulrich Hackenberg. A lithium-ion battery pack that stores even more energy than a Tesla S gives a range of 500km-plus, Audi claims, and three electric motors endow sports car-like acceleration. Wind-cheating design features include compact rear-facing cameras instead of mirrors.

Mercedes-Benz Concept IAA

A car that gets longer the faster you go? The Concept IAA's rear end extends almost 40cm above 80km/h, cutting wind resistance. The company claims a drag coefficient of 0.19 in long-tail mode, much lower than anything in current production. The sleek shape means it doesn't need high power to reach high speeds. The concept hints at a new four-seater to join the two-seat GT from performance division AMG.

Mazda Koeru

The Koeru hints at a sporty crossover to sit in between the popular CX-5 and the new CX-9 to be unveiled later this year. Longer, wider and closer to the ground than the CX-5, it could be the precursor to a coupe crossover in the BMW X4 mould. Mazda gives little away beyond explaining the name is Japanese for "exceed' or "go beyond". Chief designer Iwao Koizumi says it is aimed at the "young elite ... taking Mazda in a premium direction, but not at a higher price point. We want to give greater value from design."

Citroen Cactus M

France provided an attractive concept that wasn't electric. The Cactus M is a simple car for recapturing simple pleasures. The colourful, hose-out interior is trimmed in swimming costume material and its jaunty stance recalls the plastic-bodied Mehari built by Citroen for almost two decades from the late 1960s. The plastic doors even echo the corrugated sides of the Mehari. Citroen advanced design chief Frederic Duvernier says his creation is "a ‘concept' concept" — that is, purely for show. It will remain a one-off.