Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess has criticized EU politicsâ€˜ dealing with COâ‚‚-standards and coal power, counselling against simplified accusations in the climate protection field. We are documenting excerpts from the interview with "SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung".
The chairman of the board management of Volkswagen Group, Dr. Herbert Diess, has criticized the EU environment ministersâ€™ tightening CO2Â standards by 2030 as a drastic measure, resulting in threatening disadvantages for German car manufacturers in global competition. According to Diess, the now agreed 35 percent cut in car emissions means â€œa painful revolution instead of a manageable transition".Â If Volkswagen was to reduce the CO2Â emissions of its fleet by 30Â per cent by 2030, approximately a third of purely electric cars would come onto the roads, Diess explained. â€œIf the transport sector were to be lowered to 40Â per cent, then in 2030 more than half of the vehicles would have to be entirely electric. The transformation at that speed and with its implications is barely manageable, as within ten years approximately a quarter of the jobs in our plants would then disappear â€“ a total of around 100,000Â jobs".
Diess asked politicians to really give some thought about frameworks for a future-compliant European car industry.Â â€œAn industry such as ours can be destroyed a lot quicker than a lot of people would like to believe. Take a look at the automotive industry in Italy or Great Britain: it practically no longer exists. Detroit has also once had a blooming industry that provided a high standard of living. The USA and China see an opportunity to diminish our dominant position concerning the car of the future. And they are making good progress. I see our chances of retaining our leading position as 50:50".
At the same time, Diess referred to political dealing with coal power. â€œWe are investing billions in the electrification of our fleet, because we think thatâ€™s the right way. And then we are developing capacities for by far the most environmentally damaging method of power generation: brown coal. (â€¦) A large, brown-coal power station emits as much CO2Â as nine million diesel cars". Diess declared as "completely incomprehensible that today people are even thinking about expanding a brown-coal mining area", expressing his sympathy for the demonstrators at Hambach forest. "It doesnâ€™t make any sense at all to bring electric cars onto the roads if at the same time we are generating the electricity to power them from brown coal. We would then be driving using coal instead of oil and be producing more CO2Â than we do today".
In this regard, Diess also emphasized the key role of modern Diesel drives for climate protection. "In terms of the CO2Â balance, electric cars will not be able to keep up with diesels in Germany over long distances for the foreseeable future. Because the truth is: you are not going electric, but are switching to coal power. This is due to the electricity mix. When you produce a battery using coal-generated electricity, then you have already created five tonnes of CO2Â just by making the battery. And if you then drive using coal-generated electricity on top of that, e-mobility really does become nonsense".
Concerning driving bans for elder Diesel vehicles, Diess warned of exaggerated scaremongering "There is absolutely no reason for driving bans. Nitrogen oxide pollution has been reduced by 70Â per cent since 1990, even though traffic has increased by 50Â per cent. In the last year alone, the situation has improved by 12Â per cent, even in particularly heavily polluted cities like here in Stuttgart. This means that the problem in cities is being perspectively resolved by fleet renewal. Diesels are improving from one generation to the next".
Against this background, Diess called to mind the car manufacturersâ€™ various efforts and offers. "We bought and scrapped more than 210,000Â vehicles fitted with Euro-4 diesel engines or older last year. New, clean cars have now replaced these on the roads". Again, the chairman of the board of directors promoted the software updates offered by Volkswagen, immediately achieving 25 to 30Â per cent less nitrogen oxide â€“ and at a much cheaper price: "100Â euros as opposed to 3,000Â euros for the upgrade".
In contrast, the costly upgrade â€“ ten technician hours â€“ for the installation of new SCR catalytic converters may even end up being counterproductive, Diess stated. He quoted a recent study from the JÃ¼lich research centre showing that storage catalysts work better in the cold, whereas the newer SCR catalytic converters in the engine require a starting temperature of 250 degrees. "They therefore donâ€™t work properly when running in cities because the engine temperature is too low". At the same time, Diess announced "very attractive offersÂ for customers who want to exchange their vehicles. For example, you can exchange a used, 10-year-old, Euro-4 Passat for a newer, used petrol car. The calculation would look like this: a residual value of around 6,000Â euros, plus a 4,000-euro exchange premium and very reasonable finance for the new car, if required".
Diess criticized public perception as being determined by emotional misinterpretations and wild accusations. "In the public eye, there is one culprit for nitrogen oxide: cars and the car industry. (â€¦) This is convenient because nobody asks whether the communities themselves are doing enough to improve air quality for the public. In contrast, Volkswagen is spending more than 34Â billion euros on electrification and other technologies", Diess emphasized. "After Tesla, we are the mobility company that has committed the most to e-mobility. I therefore think that the automotive industry is not being seen in the right light, by politicians neither".
The CEO also self-critically admitted that the auto industry reacted too late on the air quality problem throughout the cities. "We should have seen sooner that, although nitrogen oxide figures were falling, they were not falling fast enough. Nevertheless targets would be hit mostly nowadays. In most of the critical locations we will meet the target in a few years as well, meaning that there will be a delay only in a few cities. Thatâ€™s not good, but itâ€™s not a substantial problem, because it is clear that we will achieve it".
Source:Â Volkswagen AG