Why Mercedes bested BMW at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS concept

While the new Land Rover Defender may have been 2019’s most anticipated car debut, the general vibe at the Frankfurt Motor Show tends to favor the German car industry. Given the home turf, that’s hardly surprising, and it also guarantees a steady supply of shiny concepts from all the major players. Let’s start with Opel.

Opel went into great detail about its electrification strategy; but really, its best asset behind the now-available (in Europe) Corsa-e is 1971’s Elektro GT, a technology study powered by Bosch and Varta. Driven by Adam Opel’s grandson Georg von Opel, this concept broke six records at Hockenheim, reaching a top speed of 116.8 mph. Mind you, at a steady 60 mph, its nickel-cadmium batteries provided a range of only 28 miles.

1971 Opel Elektro GT
1971 Opel Elektro GT

Opel Michael Lohscheller Juergen Klopp

Then, we have Volkswagen, which revealed its new logo and what it hopes to become the Beetle of our electric future. The ID.3 hatchback was well received by the press, and outside of America, people will be able to plug one onto a high-speed charger very soon indeed. No need for shiny concepts when you have such major news to announce.

VW Logo Simple

Audi had nothing to worry about either. Sure, it brought a highly autonomous and drone-heavy off-road pod concept to the stand, but with the now-U.S.-bound RS 6 wagon and RS 7 Sportback also on display, no one could be distracted from widebody twin-turbo V-8s. Those looking for higher levels of electrification should also know that if there’s demand, performance hybrids are not out of the question for the RS models.

This brings us to Mercedes-Benz and the future design of its EQ sub-brand.

Mercedes Benz Concept Car

While the first EQ product the EQC crossover isn’t the most exciting battery-electric vehicle you can buy, AMG is also going electric soon enough, and there’s no question Mercedes will be quick to cook up a whole range of sleek EVs we can lust after. Hinting at the future is the Vision EQS, a sexy four-door with a grille built of 188 individual LEDs. Mercedes calls that “the new level in precise signalling,” but, show car fairy tales aside, there’s a lot to like about this vision of a future S-Class.

Too bad I can’t say the same about BMW’s vision for the 4 Series.

BMW Concept Car

This June, BMW Group design director Adrian von Hooydonk told Autocar: “Don’t worry, I don’t want the brand to turn into an oversized kidney grille brand.” He then went into details, claiming that the reason for putting extremely scaled-up grilles on the facelifted 7 Series (and the X7) was demand for more prominent design changes from the Chinese market. However, he also added that “design tastes in China are developing rapidly,” hinting that the grilles should start shrinking in the long run.

A few years ago, Land Rover designer Gerry McGovern told the press that the new Defender won’t be an evolution of 2011’s DC100 Concept. Yet here we are. Members of BMW’s design team must be wearing similarly shaded sunglasses, because the brand says the Concept 4 is 85 percent representative of what the production-ready 4 Series will look like. Not to mention the upcoming i4, which will also be an evolution of the Concept 4’s aesthetics.

BMW Concept Car

Sales-figure hawks will tell you that no matter how your eyes feel about the Concept 4’s comically huge nostrils and raccoon-shredding intakes, BMW’s production volumes prove that more and more customers fall in love with the lines from Team von Hooydonk. We were trying to find out who was personally responsible for this front fascia, but it feels unfair to pin it all on this poor guy:

BMW Designer Man