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Electric concept cars at the Frankfurt Motor Show reveal the future of the automotive industry

In both Years since the world’s biggest automakers last gathered in Frankfurt for the biannual International Motor Show, the future of their industry has changed dramatically. The opening of the 2015 festivities came just as the world learned that Volkswagen had sold millions of diesel-powered cars that used illegal software to circumvent emissions standards. Two years later, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Renault and Nissan were accused of setting up similar programs.

Consumers are barely flocking to electric cars in response — electric vehicles account for less than one percent of U.S. sales — but the tarnishing of so-called “clean diesel” and the goals set by the Paris Agreement on the climate convinced governments that it was time for forced migration. . They are no longer content with progressively more fuel-efficient or less polluting cars. They are pushing to end the reign of the internal combustion engine and usher in the age of the electric car.

China, the world’s largest car market, has just declared its intention to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars shortly. The UK and France plan to do the same by 2040. Norway and the Netherlands are aiming for 2025, India for 2030. The feasibility of such a drastic change remains uncertain, but the automotive industry is not is not very willing to take risks and has responded with her own grandiose promises. Volvo and Smart will phase out gas-powered cars over the next decade. BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz have promised a host of new electric models. Volkswagen’s “sorry, we tricked people into suffocating the planet” apology tour is calling for 80 new electric models across its brands (including Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini).

All of which means it’s high season for electric car concepts, and this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the biggest of its kind in the world, was filled with designs that foreshadow all these new models to come over the coming years. If you want to see where the auto industry is headed over the next decade and beyond, just take a look in the gallery above and prepare for a real shock.

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