The Detroit Auto Show in December included major revelations from automakers from Chevy to Hyundai, including displays of many companies’ concept cars. Fans of meticulous German engineering have only one question on their minds, however: What new surprises do German automakers have up their sleeves? Here’s a look at three concept cars that you might one day bring to your Austin BMW service shop or Mercedes repair shop in Austin.

1. BMW i8 – the hottest of the hot?

Perhaps the most exciting German concept car is the BMW i8. This machine is a plug-in hybrid sports car that will take its driver from 0 to 62 mph in a scant 4.6 seconds. With semi-translucent doors that open up and behind like wings rather than outward, the i8 looks more like a time machine than an average car. A vehicle for the modern era, it provides both power and fuel efficiency in equal measure.

2. Eco-friendly Benz is not a contradiction in terms.

Not to be outdone by BMW, Mercedes Benz is working on giving the Mercedes A-Class a style update. The A-Class, a four-door hatchback Benz, has been received with a “meh” reaction from most Mercedes fans. Environmentally friendly? Yes. Stylish? Not unless you get your idea of style from a middle-aged librarian (no offense, librarians!).

At auto shows in late 2011, Mercedes took the A-Class in a new direction, revealing a high-tech concept version of the A-Class that they hope will better appeal to hipsters with a soft spot for the environment.

3. E is for Audi.

Not to be outdone by its better-known cousins, Audi is another German car maker working on a series of electric and hybrid sports cars. The e-tron family of concept cars was first shown by Audi in 2009, and consists of a series of electric and plug-in hybrid sports cars. The latest of the e-trons is the e-tron Spyder, a plug-in hybrid with a top speed of 155 mph.

Expect that Audi may change the name of the series for Europe; the French press has already pointed out that “e-tron” is awfully close to “étron.”

These are just three of the latest German concept cars. Keep your eyes open for more that follow the same electric and hybrid trends for 2012 and 2013.

German Auto Center

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