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Electric cars and SUVs: The future of travel according to the Paris Motor Show

ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

The 2016 Paris Motor Show opened its doors this week, with several of the world's biggest carmakers bringing their latest and greatest creations to display.

Here're CNBC's top picks from the event.


Opel steals the show

The Opel Ampera-e
Opel

Several auto firms debuted electric vehicles at this year's show and Opel's Ampera-e zero-emission car is particularly notable.

Most electric vehicles currently have a range of around 300km before needing to recharge, Opel claims their new vehicle has a range of around 500km.

"The leader at the event is Opel with its Ampera-e that the automaker says will reach 500km on NEDC (the New European Driving Cycle) and estimates will achieve 380km on the tougher WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedures) cycle," said Ian Fletcher, principal analyst for IHS Markit, in a press release.

"The question now is whether this will hasten the switch for some customers from more conventional types."


VW’s electric revolution

The Volkswagen ID unveiled at the Paris Motor Show
Brent Gunts

A year on from the damaging emissions scandal, German manufacturer Volkswagen unveiled the ID, an electric concept car.

The ID's electric motor has an output of 125 kW and has a range of at least 400km. VW plans for the car to be capable of self-driving by 2025.

"While sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have been growing and manufacturers' efforts have continued to drive improvements in the infrastructure necessary to support them, they remain a small share of market today," said Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst at IHS Markit, in a press release.

"IHS Automotive forecasts that global production of EVs will grow from about 493,000 units in 2016 to 3.0 million units by 2027."


Porsche’s latest race car

The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (991) 2017 model
Porsche

Porsche showed off the 2017 model of its race car, the 911 GT3 Cup, at the show. The car has a four-litre, six-cylinder flat engine and with direct fuel injection delivers peak performance of 485 horsepower.

Renault’s new design direction

Renault debuts the TREZOR concept car at the Paris Motor Show
Brent Gunts

The French carmaker unveiled the heavily teased Trezor at the show on Wednesday, marking a new phase of design at the company. The Trezor combines an electric-powered engine with self-driving, autonomous functions and is capable of reaching 62 miles per hour (mph) in less than four seconds.

Land Rover’s latest Discovery

The launch of Land Rover's 'New Discovery'
Dan Kitwood | Getty Images

Land Rover's latest SUV, the Discovery, combines design innovation with low emission technology. Prior to displaying it in Paris, the carmaker unveiled the model in spectacular fashion in the U.K., by commissioning a model of London's Tower Bridge made from 5,805,846 LEGO bricks. The 13-meter structure set a new Guinness world record for the largest structure made from toy bricks and took five months to build.

"New Discovery redefines the large SUV," said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's chief design officer, in a press release. "Land Rover's design and engineering teams have revolutionised the Discovery DNA to create a highly desirable, extremely versatile and hugely capable premium SUV."


Mercedes-Benz’s vision for the future

The new Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ concept SUV
Marlene Awaad | Bloomberg

Mercedes-Benz presented 30 cars at the motor show this year, including several debuts, notably the Mercedes-Benz Generation EQ – an electric SUV. Several carmakers, including Mercedes-Benz, presented visions for the future of transport that IHS Markit described as utopian.

"The automakers are presenting a utopian view of how people will move, but also new ways to make a vehicle even more integral to one's lifestyle," said Brinley.

"As example, the scenario that Mercedes-Benz laid out for a car that picked up dry cleaning for the owner coming back from a business trip--while the car was also shared with another instead of just sitting at airport parking."


Audi’s new SUV

The new Audi Q5
Chesnot | Getty Images

Despite the increased presence of electric cars and more energy efficient designs, SUVs remained prominent fixtures of the show. Audi unveiled its latest version of the Q5, its compact, luxury SUV.

However, the new Q5 uses more efficient technology and weighs 90kg less than the previous model of the car


BMW’s new SUV (also)

The new BMW X2 concept electric car
Marlene Awaad | Bloomberg

BMW revealed a new concept car, the X2. This new addition to the X model of SUVs is a preview for a new production model expected to debut in 2018.

Renault joins in the electric scene

The battery unit of a new Renault Zoe
Marlene Awaad | Bloomberg

As well as the Trezor, Renault showed off Zoe, a fully electric car capable to travelling 400km in a single charge. Pictured is the battery system for how Zoe functions.

"There have also been plenty of upgrades announced in terms of existing battery electric vehicles," commented IHS Markit's Fletcher.

"A range of 300km appears to be the magic number to be surpassed with the BMW I3 and VW e-Golf both now said to hit this mark, while Renault's Zoe now said to reach 400km."