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Merkel opens IAA auto show, confirms one-million-e-car goal

Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened the 65th IAA auto show in Frankfurt. While confirming her goal to put 1 million e-cars on German roads by 2020, she believes eco-friendly cars are not the only future for the industry.

Electromobility would gain increasing importance for the automobile industry in the future, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said as she officially opened the 65th International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt on Thursday.

She confirmed a plan by her government to put about one million electric cars onto German roads by 2020.

The German chancellor also urged the EU's executive Commission to provide reasonable targets for future CO² emissions in the automobile industry. Under EU plans, Brussels demands that European carmakers reduce their fleet emissions to 95 grams per kilometer - a target which is difficult to achieve, especially by Germany's luxury automakers producing mainly high-powered vehicles.

Noting that the targets must allow for growth and innovation in all car segments, she said that European manufacturers must not be limited to building fuel-efficient small cars only.

E-cars all the rage at IAA

In efforts to reduce fleet emissions, more and more carmakers are presenting electrically-powered automobiles at this year's IAA in Frankfurt.

Watch video 02:30

IAA Frankfurt electrified by e-cars

The most prominent are innovative green cars from leading German carmakers Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes. They are seeking to catch up with rivals Renault, Nissan, Citroen and Opel in the race for a share in the new market of electric vehicles.

German manufacturers alone have announced the launch of 16 new all-electric models by 2016, said Matthias Wissmann, president of Germany's VDA manufacturers' association.

"Once the infrastructure is in place we could be talking next year about five-figure sales,” he told dpa news agency.

However, German e-car sales figures are sobering, with just about 2,900 of such vehicles registered so far in 2013. A recent survey showed that the cars' limited range and their high price were major downsides with German drivers.

Smart cars shake up industry

In other automobile developments showcased at IAA, intelligent cars are expected to become game-changers in the coming years.

Aimed at young buyers who want to be well connected while on the move, more and more cars offer Internet connections for entertainment as well as to improve driver assistance and warning systems.

The electronics department chief of components maker Continental, Christian Senger, said the advent of intelligent cars would force established auto companies to open up to the IT industry and to seek alliances with innovative IT firms

Senger also said that such cooperation would pave the way to autonomous motoring in which cars pilot along motorways unaided by the driver.

uhe/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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