At this week's Frankfurt auto show, German automakers will be vying to show that upstarts such as Tesla Motors won't overtake them in a future where cars are powered by long-range electric motors, can pilot themselves without ever needing driver intervention and have full connectivity.
BMW will debut a new EV concept for its i subbrand, while Mercedes-Benz will preview the volume-seller for its EQ marque. Audi focuses on advanced autonomous applications with its show debuts.
Germany's powerful industry is belatedly shifting its focus to autonomous and battery-powered, zero-emission cars as it faces a huge domestic backlash over harmful NOx emissions, including possible bans on diesel cars in cities. Volkswagen brand, for example, will seek to put its diesel-cheating scandal further behind it with a new concept for its I.D. electric subbrand.
Other challenges loom for Europe's traditional car companies. Chery Automobile and Great Wall Motor will be among Chinese automakers showing vehicles they believe match Western cars in quality, equipment and connectivity.
Europe's SUV boom shows no sign of slowing and there will be new high-riding models aplenty in Frankfurt. Hyundai, Kia, Citroen and Seat will debut late-arriving entries in the increasing crowded subcompact crossover segment, while Porsche updates the Cayenne and BMW previews its three-row X7 SUV flagship.
Frankfurt doesn't escape the trend for some brands to avoid a hugely expensive presence at car shows in favor of stand-alone debuts outside the show calendar. Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Volvo and the Peugeot brand are among notable absentees. Ford is taking a lower-key approach and will not have a press conference to announce its products to the world.
Frankfurt's showstopper likely will be the Mercedes AMG Project One $2 million hypercar, while Ferrari's Portofino will also attract lovers of high-performance models.
The show's press days are Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are some key debuts.
Audi is highlighting its ambitions for self-driving cars with two concept vehicles that have advanced "hands-free" autonomous functions. One of the concepts is a full-electric large sedan designed for long journeys where the car drives itself and the occupants do other tasks. It's capable of Level 5 hands-free driving and has a range of 700 km to 800 km. Audi's other concept is a coupe-styled SUV based on the Audi e-tron Sportback concept. It's capable of Level 4 conditional hands-free driving. Audi's new A8 will get a show debut. The company's flagship sedan is capable of Level 3 autonomy that allows hands-free driving at low speeds, which makes it the most advanced self-driving production car, Audi says.
Bentley is giving its third-generation Continental GT technology and performance upgrades to keep what has been its most critical nameplate from being overshadowed by the Bentayga SUV.