Charged up for the world’s largest car show at Frankfurt, Germany, we expected bigger, sexier and more powerful cars, and that’s just what we witnessed. But this time around, joining the muscular and modern machines in the limelight were battery-powered models that manufacturers plan to sell in the next few years. We guide you to some of the best.

Volkswagen E-Up

Volkswagen confirmed its entry into the electric market with the E-Up. Scheduled for launch at the end of next year, the model has 18kW batteries that can be charged in five hours, giving a range of 130 km. The batteries in the concept are protected by a specially designed crash structure and are kept cool by a series of heat exchangers.

The electric system is compact and frees up room for passengers. The E-Up weighs just 1085kg — light considering the batteries alone weigh 240kg. Solar panels measuring 1.4 square metres help to back up the batteries.

Reva NXR/ NXG

India’s very own Reva Electric Car Company (RECC) showed off two brand new electric car models at the Frankfurt show. The first called the NXR is a new lithium-ion powered, four-seater, three-door, electric car. The production scheduled to commence from early 2010 at RECC’s new Bangalore plant. The NXR has a claimed top speed of 104kph with a range of 160km per charge. Average prices in Europe, excluding batteries, will be around Rs. 10.49 lakh for the lithium-ion NXR Intercity version. The NXR City, with lead acid batteries that has an 80km range and a top speed of 80kph, is also available from Rs. 6.99 lakh.

The other model Reva showcased was its new showcar, the NXG, which is a sporty two-seater with a targa roof is designed by Dilip Chhabria of DC Design. This model will be produced from 2011 at Bangalore and has a range of 200km per charge and a top speed of 130kph.

Using the fast charge, it has an effective range of 400km a day. Pricing in Europe excluding batteries is from Rs. 16.1 lakh. Reva also showed off its new REVive, which acts like an invisible reserve fuel tank. The customer telephones or SMSes RECC for an instant remote recharge. Both these models feature this unique recharging system.

Audi e-tron

Audi plans to put an electric car on sale when the powertrain in this e-tron concept hits targets on range, performance and durability. At 4.26m long and 1.9m wide, the e-tron is shorter and wider than a Boxster. The powertrain for the e-tron features four electric motors — one pair at the front and another pair on the rear axle. Total available power is 313bhp and torque is an astonishing 459kgm — around 10 times that produced by the V8-engined R8. Performance is brisk; 0-100kph takes 4.8sec and the top speed is 198kph. The 470kg lithium ion battery sits at the front of the e-tron. to help achieve a 42 per cent front/58 per cent rear weight distribution.

Volvo ReCharge Concept

Volvo Cars introduced its ReCharge Concept, a plug-in hybrid with individual electric wheel motors and batteries that can be recharged via a regular electrical outlet for maximum environmental benefit. Recharging allows the car to be driven about 100 kilometres on battery power alone before the car’s four-cylinder Flexifuel engine is needed to power the car and recharge the battery. Volvo ReCharge Concept made its debut in a specially designed Volvo V70.

BMW X1

BMW officially launched its X1 at the Frankfurt motor show. It offers a choice between standard rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and is more a crossover than an off-roader. It has estate car-like styling and comes with five different engines.

Ferrari 458 Italia

The Ferrari 458 Italia was one of the stars at Frankfurt. It draws inspiration from the Enzo and takes a new look influenced by the Mille Chili concept car. The name derives from the powerplant: a 4.5-litre V8 which Ferrari claims has the highest specific output of any normally aspirated car engine. It will be built alongside the California in a new facility at Maranello.

Mercedes SLS

The gullwinged-SLS will go on sale in 2010, with an expected price tag of around Rs 1.24 crore in the U.K. The styling is inspired by the iconic Mercedes 300SL and power will come from a 6.2-litre AMG V8. It produces 563bhp and 66kgm of torque.

Skoda Superb Estate

The Skoda Superb Estate has Laura-inspired styling and features an electric tailgate and power panoramic roof. The estate retains the same length, wheelbase and width as the conventional Superb but is taller at the back. It also benefits from revised rear seating to maximise load space.

Fiat Punto Evo

The Punto Evo is the latest evolution of Fiat’s supermini. New to the range is Fiat’s Multiair engine, a 1.4-litre unit with an advanced air inlet valve system which boosts efficiency and reduces emissions. There are second-generation 1.3-litre Multijet diesels, and standard-fit stop-start technology in all versions meeting Euro 5 norms. An overhaul to the cabin brings new seats and a redesigned fascia, and there are new bumpers, new headlights and restyled rear tail-lights.

Bentley Mulsanne

The Mulsanne is described by Bentley as a clean-sheet design and is powered by a heavily updated version of the Arnage’s L-series 500bhp, 6.75-litre V8, linked to an eight-speed automatic.

Aston Martin Rapide

Aston Martin’s first four-door sports car, the Rapide, was unveiled in production form at the Frankfurt show. Fitted with a hand-built 6-litre V12, the Rapide’s 470bhp peak power is delivered at 6000rpm and 61kgm peak torque at 5000rpm. According to Aston sources, the car is likely to cost Rs. 1.2 crore. Rolls-Royce Ghost

Rolls-Royce revealed its brand new saloon, the Ghost. Defined as a smaller and more affordable Rolls-Royce, it’s still 5.5m long and is powered by a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 that produces 563bhp.

Hyundai i10 electric & ix35

Hyundai launched an all-electric version of its i10 city car. It will go into full production in 2012. The i10 Electric’s power comes from a 49kw electric motor and a 16kw lithium-ion polymer battery. One of the i10 electric’s main selling points is its fast charge system, which can charge up the battery to 85 per cent capacity in 15 minutes from a 413V power source. A full 100 per cent charge takes up to five hours.