Electric car prototypes and plans are set to dominate the Paris auto show as the Volkswagen diesel scandal and falling battery costs persuade executives and investors that plug-in vehicles are ready to go mainstream. But, as Ivor Bennett reports, not every major automaker chose to go this year.
If you can't shake the spotlight, you might as well embrace it. A year on from its emissions scandal, Volkswagen has unveiled its vision for the future. Cleaner, Greener - and not a drop of diesel in sight. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JURGEN STACKMANN, MEMBER OF MANAGEMENT BOARD, VOLKSWAGEN, SAYING: "Electric, we believe, is going to be the centre pole of change in the future. And that will allow us to really change, not only our technology, but the concept of life with our customers. For the first time, Volkswagen will be connected to our customers. The I.D. will also be VW's first self-driving car. Which it says will be available in 2025 It may be just a concept, but the push into electric is very real indeed. With Opel, Renault and Daimler all unveiling new models at this year's Paris Auto show. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "Battery life has been the main hurdle until now - you just couldn't really drive that far before having to charge it up again. But the technology is rapidly picking up pace. This Opel Ampera example has a 60 kilowatt-hour battery that can cover 383 kilometres on a single charge - almost the distance from London to Paris." The technology's also now a lot cheaper. In some cases half the price of one of the early pioneers - Tesla's Model S. But they too have their foot on the accelerator. (SOUNDBITE) (French) TESLA HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR FRANCE, CHARLES DELAVILLE, SAYING: "We have ranges which can go beyond 600 kilometres - such as the Model P100D - and on top of this we have a super-fast charging network which allows for long distance travel in a fully electric vehicle. So in fact we offer more than just cars, it's all an ecosystem which we have offer." Electric cars accounted for just 0.4 percent of new registrations last year. By 2025 they're predicted to claim 15 percent. But will they even take over? Perhaps not. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALEX GOY, SENIOR EDITOR, CARFECTION.COM AND THEROADSHOW.COM, SAYING: "There'll always be a space for a combustion engine. Whether or not it's brand spanking new cars, or whether or not they're older ones, classics. Some of the cars that are around now may be seen as classic cars within our lifetime which I find really weird. But they can coexist." On the road maybe, but here, there's only room for one.