The 6 Best EVs From IAA Mobility 2023

BYD, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi all put their best EVs forward at IAA Mobility 2023.

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Mini Cooper SE EV

To no one’s surprise, Germany’s annual IAA Mobility auto show has been all about EVs, and at the center of that thirst for electrified motoring are China’s up-and-coming EV makers.

On top of of cramming cars full of cutting-edge tech, juggernauts like BYD are teasing affordable EVs that are made for European buyers and cost just a little less than their rivals’ wares.

Even if you don’t live in Europe or Asia, you’re not going to want to miss the highlights from this show which includes must-see entrants from Germany and China’s most storied brands.

6.) BYD Seal

BYD is coming at Tesla for its title as top dog.


BYD isn’t a known entity to most Americans, but they’re a massive manufacturer, with fingers in all sorts of industries, and they’ve just inked a deal with Mercedes. That’s surely going to mean co-development. And if you’re wondering why Mercedes-Benz is interested, it’s not just about access to the Chinese market. Instead, you have to know what’s going on beneath the skin of the Seal, which goes on sale next year in Europe (along with several other models). It doesn’t boast exactly groundbreaking looks, but it does use a design that’s been promised by other carmakers but hasn’t actually been manufactured yet.

See, BYD uses what it calls CTB (Cell-to-Body) technology, where the cells become a stressed member of the chassis (much like high-end motorcycle designers have done). The advantage: It saves weight and allows making a car that doesn’t have to tower over the road, and uses fewer parts, saving dough.

A lower car can be more aerodynamic, and that also means using a smaller battery. Speaking of that, we’ll take the 323 miles of range from an 82.5kW battery, thanks very much, and given that it’ll go on sale for about $50,000, the Seal is pointed right at the dated Tesla Model S at a sharply lower sticker. Thanks to the simmering trade war with China we might not see a BYD here anytime soon, but you can well expect the tech to filter into future cars.

5.) Mini Cooper SE 2-Door Electric

Mini is making bold choices with its upcoming EV.


Mini and partner BMW pretty much stole the show for German brands. For their part, Mini revealed both the Cooper SE Electric and the larger, and now electrified Countryman. The gist of the Cooper is that the previous small Mini E was… anemic for range. This new car, on a new platform, will get up to 250 miles of range from a 54.2 kW battery. That’s still not 300 miles, but given the dearth of small, let alone really fun and sporty EVs on the U.S. market, this electrified Cooper isn’t going to have a lot of competition in the category, which bodes well for the brand.

But a bigger deal, really, is what’s inside.

There’s no instrument cluster in front of the driver, but instead, Mini’s formerly analog-ish center gauge is now replaced by a 240mm thin film display that doubles as a controller for many of the car’s functions; this OLED display has also been pushed off-center, so it’s closer to the driver. Mini announced a new OS 9, with the idea of simulating smartphone functions, where the geography includes static “islands” that don’t relocate (like climate), as well as obvious ones, such as speed. BMW Group used Android Open Source Project software to develop the functionality, but BMW and Qualcomm also announced an increased partnership for faster response and cloud services.

4.) BMW Vision Neue Klasse

BMW’s wild concept has a new look with old-school callbacks.


This is bound to be polarizing, but there’s an element to the style of the Vision Neue Klasse which isn’t new at all. The large greenhouse, abbreviated trunk, and shark nose are all trademarks of 3-series cars from about 1980, and it even harks to the 1600s from way back. “Neu Klasse” is an old name, too, from the early 1960s, but that’s been dusted off as the label for BMW’s new electric car architecture, with cars looking something like this landing around 2025.

The minimalist design — we hope — survives into production, because it’s a lot prettier and less busy than anything BMW is doing today. Not that the show car is really that minimalist. For instance, BMW is using E ink material at the shoulder line of the car as a form of illumination that would glow as you walk up to the car with a digital key in your pocket. Considering all the projected lighting used on (and beneath) cars today, this application is relatively subtle. BMW also uses an optical trick for the tail lamps, where 3D printing a sort of hall-of-mirrors pattern allows the carmaker to bounce LED light to create the effect of tremendous depth, without actually having to create enormous light housings that would be far more costly and cut into trunk space.

Some features we think are awesome may not pass regs. For instance, the windscreen doubles as a display, where the lower edge is blacked out and used as the instrument and infotainment screen, with projectors sending the data to the surface.


A new GTI will make an appeal to the next generation of VW fans.


Volkswagen sells the ID.4 in the U.S. Soon, they’ll sell the ID.Buzz. But across the pond, and in China, they sell smaller-scaled ID electric cars, too, like the ID.3, yet so far anyway, they’re not coming here, which is a problem for a carmaker that’s supposed to want to electrify ASAP. Americans buy Atlases — but those run on gasoline. Hipster #vanlife people will certainly gobble up the ID.Buzz, but VW-heads (i.e., young people who like sporty cars) are going to look elsewhere if the whole hot hatch segment that this company pioneered for five decades evaporates.

VW isn’t dumb: hence the ID.GTI you see here. Sure, it’s actually shorter than the current Golf GTI, but because it’s an EV, it’s not tiny inside since the “engine” bay doesn’t eat as much into the car’s volume like a gas vehicle’s would. Oh, and it’s also gorgeous, layered with all sorts of “Easter Egg” baubles for VW fans to chase after — from that fin-like hatch spoiler to a hex pattern in the grille, to plaid-patterned seats, which are a “must” for Volkswagen traditionalists.

2.) Audi Q6 E-Tron

It’s all about the “Digital Stage” in Audi’s Q6 E-tron.


One thing to know about show cars: the further out a product is from going on sale, the more skeptical you should be. Compare, for instance, the three screens on the dash of the Q6 E-tron, which is set to go on sale next year, vs. the projected-screen simulation of the BMW that is still very much in concept stage. This is the tech of now, and whether BMW’s Vision Neue Klasse would come to life anything like what they’re offering is still just a guess.

What’s not conjecture is that Audi’s “Digital Stage,” features an 11.9-inch screen (as gauge cluster) for the driver, a central, 14.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display, and a 10.9-inch screen in front of the passenger, where they can individually control navigation and entertainment settings. Audi even says that front passengers will be able to watch movies from that seat, and that there’s a privacy function (like you can add to your laptop) to prevent the driver from being distracted. U.S. regulators tend to get cranky around such tech, so TBD on whether that will be kosher here.

If the screen wars are getting a bit passe, the digital assistant business is only heating up. Since we are used to talking to our homes and our phones, carmakers are naturally following allowing. In the Q6 E-tron that’s manifested with what Audi calls a “self-learning voice assistant,” which was built using Android Automotive, a code base that’s built on architecture designed by CARIAD.

1.) Mercedes-Benz CLA EV

Mercedes-Benz brings a star motif to this CLA concept to make it the aesthetic anti-Tesla.


If there’s a reason to be excited about Mercedes-Benz new CLA, it’s probably not about the skin of this sexy car, or even the purported 405 miles of range, but the fact that Mercedes, to date, has focused so much energy on EVs for the 1 percent (or .02 percent), and here they’re talking about not just the sedan that you see in this concept, but an entire range of four “entry-level” EVs.

Now, entering at what level is, well, open to interpretation, but they did promise to build a four-door coupe, a wagon, and two SUVs on this new platform, and their release made clear they understand that the C-Class buyer of today is a future S-Class buyer later.

FYI, that means Mercedes also knows they’re not just delivering beauty, but tech substance, so Mercedes-Benz is developing its own operating system they’re calling MB.OS. Like you’re seeing from Audi and BMW in Munich, carmakers understand that both full autonomy and safety tech will only advance with a computational leap forward. Or, to be blunt, all the sensors on a car have the ability to capture information, but imagine all that data in the cloud, allowing even jammed L.A. traffic to move in unison.

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