Electric cars shine at the Frankfurt Motor Show

Car companies are showcasing the industry's future at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show -- and it's electric. 

In the past, auto makers -- especially those based in Germany -- have used the show to feature their powerful luxury models, often powered by diesel engines. But with diesel falling out of favor, even in diesel-happy Europe, amid public health concerns following the Volkswagen emissions scandal, companies are clearly indicating that battery power is the fuel of the future.

At this year's show, which opens to the public Saturday and runs through Sept. 24, Honda (HMC) President Takahiro Hachigo said its four-passenger electric sedan, called the Urban EV Concept, will go on sale in Europe in 2019. The company hasn't said when it might market this vehicle in the U.S., but it's intended as a prototype for Honda electrics worldwide.

"Given the high profile that electrified powertrains have had of late, particularly in Europe, Honda is hoping to raise its profile through this type of alternative powertrain, " said Ian Fletcher, automotive analyst for the firm IHS  Markit.

Honda is also showing a prototype of an electric CR-V, the compact Honda SUV that sells strongly in this country.

Among European brands, Mini (owned by BMW), is also showing  a concept for an upcoming electric model. The Mini has a three-door hatchback body style. It incorporates some design changes such as a closed grille that improves aerodynamics and is made possible because electric engines don't require air for cooling as do internal combustion engines. 

Fletcher of IHS Markit said Mini -- originally a British brand -- will build the electric vehicle at a plant in Oxford, England.

But fossil-fuel swilling engines aren't completely out of style. In a throwback to high-powered luxury models, Porsche is introducing in Frankfurt a redesigned version of its Cayenne SUV. Although known for sleek, powerful sports cars, Porsche sells more Cayennes than any other model. The company said the new version will feature even sportier handling similar to Porsche's 911 sports cars.

Even flashier, Bentley is featuring a new version of its Continental GT. It boasts  a 12-cylinder engine that the company said can reach a top speed of 207 MPH. Bentley hasn't announced pricing for the new model, but the 2017 version starts at $198,500. 

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.