An Audi A3 e-tron plugs into a charging station during a media preview day at the Frankfurt Motor Show yesterday. Audi's parent, Volkswagen will unveil its first all-electric Golf at the show, which opens to the public from September 14 to 22. Photo: Reuters

Frankfurt - Some of the greenest cars money can buy went on display yesterday at the Frankfurt Motor Show ahead of its official opening tomorrow.

Affordable electromobility is a key topic at this year’s edition of one of the most important vehicle expos.

“Electromobility is no longer just a vision.

“Electric cars are now coming onto the roads,” said Matthias Wissmann, the president of Germany’s VDA manufacturers’ federation.

Experts believe the world vehicle market is stabilising and may show growth from next year. Zero-emission cars provide manufacturers with an opportunity to carve out market share and boost their brand image.

Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler said he was confident the European market would be back to strength within two years at the most.

The emphasis is also on technology that connects cars with other cars and the world around them. On-board systems warn of hazards ahead and direct drivers to use public transport if roads are gridlocked, while maps on screen indicate where electric cars can be recharged.

There are dozens of global and European premieres, with strong showings from German brands on their home turf. A key debut is BMW’s first fully-electric car, the i3, which the maker hopes will usher in a new era of urban mobility.

The tall, lightweight hatchback is unlike anything seen before in a BMW showroom. It can cover 160km in purely electric mode.

The i3 squares up against the first all-electric VW Golf, a zero-emission version of Germany’s best-selling car from Europe’s biggest car maker. Volkswagen also unveiled the electric version of its Up mini-car and is hoping for a sales breakthrough with both.

At this year’s show 129 Chinese companies are in attendance, a tenfold increase over 2011. Most of them are component suppliers.

Changan, the only Chinese vehicle maker showing cars in Frankfurt, chose the venue to introduce a new Italian-designed sport utility vehicle, the CS 75.

Changan ranks among the top four car makers in China and sells about 2 million units a year at home. - Sapa-dpa