By on November 14, 2010

I’ve always maintained that despite green noises about electric cars, Volkswagen, deep in their Wolfsburg hearts, doesn’t believe in them. Because they don’t make sense. If they are too expensive, people won’t buy them. Volkswagen has ample experience in this arena, probably more than anybody else. Ages ago, VW built a fuel-sipping 3 liter Lupo (3 liter / 100 km, 78 mpg.) The press lapped it up. The greenies creamed in their pants. Focus groups swore they’ll buy it, no matter the cost. They lied. In the showroom, the 3 Liter Lupo was a dud: Advanced materials had made it light, but also expensive. Customer reaction: “Interesting. Now how about that red GTI over there?”

Now finally, someone high up at Volkswagen has the guts to say it: Volkswagen doesn’t build electric cars because the customer wants them. Volkswagen makes EVs because the government demands them.

Compared to a 3 liter Lupo, plugins are sheer lunacy. Even more expensive than a space-age material car. Weighed down by a huge and expensive battery. Should come with a factory-standard Prozac-dispenser to ease customer anxiety about getting home before the battery runs out. The EV is supposedly for city dwellers. Seen any jacks on the street or in public garages?

For public consumption, CEO Martin Winterkorn displayed enthusiasm for the future of electric cars, both in general and as a part of VW’s strategy. Now his sales chief Christian Klinger went on record that the electric emperor is in the nude.

It came “as a bit of a contradictory shock” to the EV-fansite Plugincars “to hear Volkswagen’s Board Member responsible for sales, Christian Klingler, express emotions bordering on outright hostility regarding the future of electric cars.” In a roundtable discussion during the media launch for the electric Golf in Germany no less. At this occasion, Klingler said how he really feels:

“The electric car is not a request from the customer, the electric car is a request from the government,” said Klingler. He also said that there is no market demand for electric cars.

Apart from making no economic sense, Klingler thinks that an electric car makes even less ecologic sense: “We have to find a solution how the electricity is produced because CO2 shouldn’t go into the air when electricity is produced,” he said. “When you buy an electric car in China, you can be sure you have 118 to 200 grams of CO2 produced per kilometer, which is twice what you have from a normal engine, so why should you do it?”

Way back, when I still wrote for instead of about  Volkswagen, I wrote in an officially sanctioned Volkswagen book:  “Battery powered electric cars don’t produce any direct emissions. Nevertheless, the power must be created somewhere. If you are taking a hard look at it, pollutant emissions are simply moved from the tailpipe to the smokestack.” These facts haven’t changed.

Volkswagen has always been pretty good and forthright about the ecologic impact of a car. They have a whole environmental department, launched way back in 1971. One of its jobs is to draw up an “Öko-Bilanz” for each car, an ecological balance sheet from cradle to grave, from production to the shredder, from emissions during painting to emissions during driving. They are doing a good and honest job.

When green was just a color, Volkswagen already had a two water system in Wolfsburg, a grey water system to flush the toilet and to use in production, and a clean water system for drinking. Volkswagen had taken the environment seriously before it was fashionable. Being old hands at it, they also are pretty realistic.

Plugincars was shocked and incredulous when Klingler said “no, there is no study” that proves that well-to-wheel, an EV is kinder to the environment than a modern clean ICE powered car.

Even Edmunds, usually one of the saner publications, is perturbed: “Bad timing for an executive whose company had just flown a dozen U.S. automotive writers to Germany to participate in one of VW’s first major media briefings on its e-Mobility electric-drive program.”

Edmunds spins a tale of an internal schism between “the company’s product development and sales units.” I don’t buy it. Internal schisms at Volkswagen exist like they do at any company. But they are not put in a press release. This one was intentional.

Wrote a still depressed Plugincars: “Essentially I’ve come away from the roundtable thinking that VW will build an electric car, but they don’t really want to and they are using old and, at this point, mostly dismissed, notions to say why potential customers won’t want them. It kind of felt like GM and their self-destructive marketing message with the EV1.“

We’ll see. I usually needle VW for their “we’ll rule the world” hubris. But writing for Thetruthaboutcars, I applaud Klingler for his guts and candor.

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61 Comments on “VW’s Klingler: Nobody Wants EVs, Except Governments...”


  • avatar
    John Horner

    I imagine that Klingler is, in part, trying to inoculate the sales side of Volkswagen from criticism if and when the Golf EV doesn’t sell well.
     

    • 0 avatar
      G.D.

      Indeed.  Moreover, the Lupo proved one of many things: Any company is going to have a hard time selling “clean diesel” as green.
       
      Take one largely unattractive, undesirable appliance-automobile, give it a more efficient diesel burning engine, reduce the weight, increase the price, then hope it sells?  That’s VW’s market solution to the oil consumption and climate change problem?
       
      And yet people still wonder why auto companies don’t get it.  Sheesh.

  • avatar

    Oh my God! This is a first for me. For (almost) the first time ever I believe and like something coming from Wolfsburg! The world is really changing.

    This Klinger guy must be very ballsy. Keep an eye on him in future.

  • avatar
    Doc

    Very refreshing to hear someone tell the truth on this. It takes guts.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Glad to see VW having the balls to tell it like it really is.

      It must be heartbreaking and shocking for those poor EV greenies in their self-contained echo chamber to learn that the world doesn’t really revolve around them.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Actually we want EVs, just not the kind that are on the market today. Like nobody wants a gas powered cordless drill but if Makita and Craftsman made  great ones that ran on regular unleaded and the only available rechargable drills were experimental, heavier, cost 2 or 3x as much and had battery packs that would cost more to replace than the drill itself… Yeah I know about economys of scale but as a consumer, that’s not my problem.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    “The greenies creamed in their pants.”

    The bio-organic type no doubt.

    Bertel, I always thought that the Lupo 3L was on e of Herr Spaltmass’ vanity projects (like its opposite bookend the Phaeton)?

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    “The electric car is not a request from the customer, the electric car is a request from the government”
     
    There’s one word that sums up VW’s inability to predict customer requirements … Phaeton. VW’s hand is all-in on diesels (itself a gerrymandered market created by government tax policy) and trying to convince people that stinking town centers is better than CO2 produced in China is their bluff. The first company to get an EV right (and that ain’t the Volt, Leaf or any of the others nearing production) will find themselves with more demand than they can imagine, but it appears VW have already turned the clatter from their diesels up so loud they won’t be able to hear the call.

    • 0 avatar
      martin schwoerer

      +1
      couldn’t have said it better myself

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      “The first company to get an EV right (and that ain’t the Volt, Leaf or any of the others nearing production) will find themselves with more demand than they can imagine…”
       
      I have no idea what “getting it right” means in any context whatsoever.  Are you asking for an electric car with the capability of an internal combustion automobile?  I hate to disabuse you, if that is what you mean, but we live in the real world where markets still have force, not some imaginary “if your aunt was a man she’d be your uncle” fantasy.  You seem to presume that the ideal electric car is just waiting to be hobbled together, and just waiting to assuage pent up but unfulfilled demand.   The first is not going to happen any time soon, and the latter is and will be non-existent for an even longer time.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      “There’s one word that sums up VW’s inability to predict customer requirements … Phaeton.”

      Actually, it doesn’t. Here’s one sentence that sums up VW’s ability to predict customer requirements: VW sells millions of cars worldwide. VW obviously does a good job predicting what customers want most of the time.

      The Phaeton came about due to the dictatorial egomania of Ferdinand Piech, despite whatever market studies and common sense said about the projected demand for an $80.000 (or more) Volkswagen.

      So VW blows it on occasion? Big deal, everyone does. That’s the nature of human enterprise. Looking at the whole picture, VW obviously gets it right much more often than they get it wrong, so tying VW’s market predicting ability to one example (that sells well in China, a very important market) is ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      @mrpresley; I have no idea what “getting it right” would mean either, but we will know when it happens. Most people couldn’t give a crap if their car is electric or gasoline, they want it cheap and convenient. None of the upcoming EVs are convenient because of the recharge time, but solve that and the market will go for whatever is the cheapest, which may be an EV.
       
      I don’t know how they can solve this, I know there’s possibly no current technology that can, but to just say people don’t want EVs is wrong.
       

    • 0 avatar
      sitting@home

      @Silvy_nonsense, yes I was being facetious. But the Phaeton and Lupo show that whenever VW stray from their multi-million selling mediocre machines, they often get it wrong. It’s in VWs interest to dis anything alternate to what they currently sell, because when they try if often ends up a costly mistake.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    This isn’t the first time VW has expressed doubts about the viability of EVs.  Former VoA chief Stefan Jacoby broke ranks with other panelists at a green car conference in Washington last winter when he predicted that electric cars would make up no more than 10% of VW’s sales by 2020.
     
    Interestingly, he was quoted by Wards Automotive as saying:  “We make cars for consumers, not government regulators.”
     
    http://wardsauto.com/ar/vw_forecasts_evs_100205/

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      But he was completely wrong.If you don’t build it for government regulators than you will exactly sell zero cars. Truth is more something like “we make cars that consumers want and that pass the government regulations”

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    Bertel – where I live, my bet is that in the near term time frame our local and state government will probably be the largest purchasers of electric vehicles.  The big reason is they have the resources to install charging stations.  Likewise apartment dwellers will be the least likely to own an electric vehicle.
     
    Other than a relatively small minority of car buyers who want to shun the oil companies in favor of the local power company, electric cars will be a much smaller niche than whatever you call the Lupo class of economobiles.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      The 3 liter Lupo was a very small niche. Not surprising as the Lupo was small and only really useful as a commuter car and if you are green you don’t use a commuter car but take the bus/bike/life near work etc. If green people really bought small efficient cars than you would see those buyers in other small cars. But well to do, 40 year old subscribers to vegan monthly don’t buy Ford Ka’s.
      States love the idea of electric cars because they make a country less oil dependent. A very easy way to make a country less oil dependent is by having a high gas tax. If you cant have that as state you not really trying and expecting it to do the much harder work for electric cars is foolish so i expect the US market for electric cars to be small. The world electric car market will be mainly Japan, South Korea, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and maybe a few island states.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I think EV’s are great for city cars, and fleet buyers, but out here in the country where we are at least 20 miles away from everything, there’s a long way (no pun intended) to go before they are attractive. On the other hand, what is the point of an EV (apart from that ludicrous 0 rpm torque, and the silence) unless you can charge it with something ‘green’. Charging en EV with electricity from a coal-plant is hardly helping the environment much, even if it will help the health of people in smog-filled cities.

  • avatar
    redmondjp

    So, besides the usual excuse of not meeting federal safety standards, how come we can’t get the Lupo here in America?

    Why bother with an EV at all when you can get 70+ mpg highway?  Some hipermilers using Honda Insights have been able to get these numbers, but why can’t we buy small, lightweight non-hybrid cars in this country that can easily achieve 50+ mpg?  The CRX was doing this over 20 years ago.

    As far as Volkswagens and EVs go, people have been converting the original Beetles, and then Rabbits, to EVs for decades now, and there are (or were) numerous kits available to do so.

    Why not have a third-party do EV conversions using commercially-available vehicle chassis, much as Jet Industries did 30 years ago with the Ford Escort, Mopar FWD sedans (Jet Electrica 007) and vans?

  • avatar
    Johnnyangel

    How come the mainstream car magazines and even auto blogs are now producing fawning articles regarding the Nissan Leaf, as well as any number of pointless hybrid concepts, and only The Truth About Cars tells it how it is?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      What the magazines say, and what people will actually buy, and what turns out to be good in the long term, are often entirely different things.
       
      I have little doubt that the Leaf is a refined, practical car … IF your usage pattern fits within its limitations (mine doesn’t) and IF you have a place to recharge it at home and at work (I have it at home, and I’m at a different job site every day so no way to charge it there). Between the number of people who are interested in having an electric car, and whose usage patterns actually fit it, and who have a way to recharge it, it’s quite possible that the market will remain very limited until such time as there are recharging points everywhere, and by that time, we had better have upgraded the electrical power grid and how we generate all that electricity.

    • 0 avatar
      caboaz

      They fawn about Lambo’s too but when I go to get one I find myself a several hundred thousand short and have to settle for less fawned over automobiles…

  • avatar

    The viability of EVs as far as pollution is concerned is dependent upon
    a shift in the means of electricty production.  This might occur to some
    extent, as I recently saw in N. Dak. that the coal companies are advertising
    on TV how great their product is because it is cheap.  Seems like they are
    afraid of losing their place at the dinner table as there is so much development
    of wind power up there.

    Remember that Betterplace claimed that ALL electricty for their grid in Israel
    would be from green sources. 
    In the meantime, there is no sound reason that we cannot have decent electric bikes with current batteries at a decent price as these vehicles are not expected to go 100-200 mi., could cost very little, and use no juice for heat or AC.  We have yet to see a reasonably priced well-made vehicle of this type with regen braking.  The gov must allow speeds up to 25 mph so these vehicles can be used more safely in traffic and get one to work on time.  I wish Nissan would come out with an electric bike.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    infact many cars out there with bad or dead engines can be converted to EVs, save tons of money to build wheels, body again, most dont have much wong with chassis except engine gave up its ghosts.
     

  • avatar
    Mike999

    As someone who drives an 2010 Insight, and knows how to put it in Econ mode, I think once the public feels the Torque of an electric motor, they will NEVER GO BACK to gas.
    There were people who praised COAL during the switch to oil and natural gas for home heating too.
    People probably said cars will never be better then a horse, “range” issues there too.  And yet today, there are no horses in cities.
    Being a “conservative” is good most of the time, but if it means you can’t even Consider a New Idea, then conservatism turns into a self damaging disease.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The only problem with your assumptions is that the heyday of electric vehicles was about 100 years ago. Internal combustion was the revolutionary technology that rendered them obsolete inspite of their early lead in commercial vehicle use. Even today, the least capable econobox would be a revelation in a world filled with Nissan Leaves.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Never go nack? Really? If you have only one car, is the Insight the one you would choose for a cross country trip? You’re full of it.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      …I think once the public feels the Torque of an electric motor, they will NEVER GO BACK to gas.
      You have a point about electric motors, but they don’t require a battery. EVs could face a serious threat from efficient 4-cylinder ICE cars electric motor drive trains. Dump battery and the transmission…

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      You need a small battery to start the car and regenerative braking makes sense even if you only use it for the electronics, but that needs a somewhat bigger battery, but then it can be used for boosting, but than an even bigger battery makes sense and with that bigger battery you can do complete battery powered motion but than plug in electricity makes sense and with it an even bigger battery.
       
      In short: I think an ICE (or fuel cell car) with electric transmission will always come with pluginability even if it is only for a very short distance (say 5 miles) because it will make financial sense.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      @MikeAR – not sure why a new Insight wouldn’t be a great cross country car, it doesn’t look any smaller than my second gen Prius, and that is an excellent cross country car.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    Whoa now VW there’s no place for pragmatism when dealing with environMENTALists. People who buy or want EV’s (including the governments) have no interest in the actual ecological sense of driving an electric car, its all about the political statement and “feeling better” about your self. Driving an Ev makes you a good person. It allows you to tour the Pacific Coast Highway in you $100K Tesla Roadster while thinking about how awful all those middle-American planet killing slobs are. Driving their SUV and mini-vans to Walmart to stock up on processed foods, I bet they don’t even bring their own bags – disgusting.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    The mentally retarded brats (aka, Greens) who are too weak, infantile, and lazy to even begin to study Physics and Chemistry (The twits don’t even realize that car exhaust is plantfood and makes plants “green”…Duhhh) use government violence to get thinking people (aka, Their Betters) to buy these stupid things…They don’t even realize how stupid they are…All they can do is parrot what other morons and political terrorist tell them to think.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      AaronH, sounds like you need another data point:  I’m a green and am not mentally retarded, weak, infantile and lazy.  Not stupid, either.
       
      Imagine that — life is more complicated than a broad-brush denunciation.
       

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      How does this repudiate Aaron’s observation that Greens “don’t realize how stupid they are?”

    • 0 avatar
      Dr Lemming

      CJinSD:  AaronH hasn’t shown himself to be interested in a discussion with real give and take. But for the record I’m planning to drive my ’89 Civic until it dies (will likely take another 10 years) and then see what’s the least polluting AND most cost-effective subcompact that has decent range and cargo capacity.  At this point wouldn’t even consider buying a hybrid or EV.  In the latter case why not let the government function as a key early adopter given its usage patterns and infrastructure? Funny how us “greens” aren’t monolithic in our views.

      My main goal was remind Aaron that a diversity of people read this blog.  He might consider writing in the same way he would talk at a public forum.  Of course, it might be entertaining to see him call a room full of people “mentally retarded brats” to their faces.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Where is the give and take in mandating arbitrary and probably technically impossible MPG increases? Where is the give and take in declaring all fossil fuels evil and outdated and as-yet largely non-existent alternatives the only way forward? Works both ways.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Regardless of his feelings and the truth on the subject, this probably wasn’t a good move.  At the least it was poorly stated.  Even if he is right, saying it the wrong way could cost him and VW.
     
    EV’s are too expensive.  They are too heavy.  Range is dismal.  It will take some time for this to get fixed, but once it does, they will become viable vehicles.  Till then, he is right, but saying it all wrong.  He should say something like we are proud of our EV Golf, but we have work to do to increase the demand we would like to see from these vehicles etc etc.
     
    Also, the Chinese example of pollution is not something that is surprising, but I don’t believe the US or Europe would have near the same numbers on CO2 output.  Also, one should wonder what the CO2 output is for oil production once one includes all the drilling costs and transportation of oil.  I am sure that would add a bit to CO2 numbers there.
     
    With all that said, I still want my powerful V8.  I am not interested in an EV right now for all the reasons that rational people shouldn’t be interested in them.  Early adopters finance the work for the rest of the public so that EVs will become mainstream.

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      China has a building boom in electricity generation. Their coal based electricity is made in new plants why the generators in Europe and the US are 30 year old. I expect their CO2 numbers to be much better than ours. But i don’t believe that VW is correct in their numbers even in the case of the worst coal.
       
      ps. You don’t want a V8, you want a Volt SS with added speakers for the grumble

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      He should say something like we are proud of our EV Golf, but we have work to do to increase the demand we would like to see from these vehicles etc etc.
       
      In other words, play along, tow the line, etc. … which is exactly what everyone else does. Maybe his approach was wiser because it got him more press coverage than sucking up to a bunch of vote-buying legislators.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Christian Klinger is exactly right.

    President Obama has said that the Volt represents cars that “Americans want to buy”.  So says he, but Americans will be the judge and jury on that claim.

    Europeans will also decide whether they want to buy a $57k Ampera/Volt so they can be green.  That’s an even tougher sell when even more fuel-sippers are available in Europe than the US.

    Unfortunately, the answer will be the force of government regulating such cars into ‘viability’, through subsidies for them and penalties on ‘non-green’ cars.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    AWESOME!!!!

    I want to send this guy a cake.
    It’s soooo wonderful to hear somebody say what is right for once.

    Wonderful, absolutely wonderful!

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    It’s a bit sickening reading everyone hate on environmentalists – I think you guys should read your history, about London’s Great Smog of 1952, the smog in LA before they started policing it, and the Cuyahoga burning. That is not a world I want to live in, and thankfully it’s part of the past to some extent in the west. Environmental protections are what put that in the past. A clean environment is neccessary for human life. Period.
     
    The reality is not that people don’t want EVs, it’s that they don’t want EVs now, when gas is still relatively affordable and EVs are very expensive and still not fully developed. As an emerging technology, they are still at the “nice toys for rich people” stage, just like home theater and such once were. In Europe, where VW is, EVs may never reach the stage where they are popular, simply because in most parts of Europe there is very well developed public transportation. If it gets to an energy crisis, a good portion of them can and will just dump their cars or at least use them less often. And there WILL be energy crises in the future.
     
    I know in motorhead/petrolhead land the majority believes that every environmental regulation is a plot to take away their sportscars, but let me remind you that currently the most famous EV IS a sportscar, and that despite and perhaps partly because of years of emissions and mileage requirements, we now have family sedans that are faster than most musclecars of the ’60s, yet barely pollute in comparison and consume much less gasoline. Not to mention our Corvettes and GTRs.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I think you missed the point.
      Nobody hates environmentalist. In fact, most on this sight most probably ARE lovers of the earth.
      But if you like EVs so much, then do as suggested and please buy one.
      If you do, and so do all your friends, then they will become marketable.

      Did you see the point about the damage to mother earth in producing an EV?
      Still not sure as to the cost to produce electricity, myself.

    • 0 avatar
      caboaz

      My guess is that most unemployed people in LA would trade a litte smog for a job right about now…

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      I’m old enough to have seen the smog in LA. Newsflash, you can still see smog, despite decades of increasingly harsh, restrictive, and arbitrary rules. I saw a clear pall of smog hanging over Atlanta just this past June.
       
      I’m also old enough to have been amazed at how quickly the LA perma-smog went away, and to remember the dire predictions that it would be there for 30 to 50 years even with all those draconian new engineering-by-legislation rules that essentially destroyed the American auto industry.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Newsflash, you can still see smog, despite decades of increasingly harsh, restrictive, and arbitrary rules

      Yes, but given how many cars are on the road versus those days that’s not surprising.  Imagine how much worse smog would be—especially in cities-in-a-bowl like Los Angeles or Toronto—-if we were driving 60s-vintage iron and/or European levels of diesel marketshare.

      The rules aren’t “arbitrary” by any means: California has a climate and geography that makes smog a problem in ways that much of “flyover territory” can’t understand or appreciate.  Because of regulation, air quality has gotten better (and not just in CA, but in many other areas) despite the number of cars on the road exploding over the same time period.  And without regulation, we’d probably have cardio/pulmonary problems far, far in excess of what we see now.

      What free marketers fail to understand is that regulation is in itself a market response: people vote for governments that can apply pressure to have changes made despite economic disincentives to producers of products.  They do this via government because waiting for the “free hand” fairy takes too long and incurs a human cost in the interregnum.  If they felt differently, they’d vote differently.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve65

      Years ago my dad bought a used Saab 99. Went to have it smog tested. It passed the tailpipe test with flying colors; well under the mandated limit. But it failed the test becasue it was missing some of the smog system hardware under the hood. He went to a junkyard, got the parts, installed them, had the car tuned up, and went to have it tested again. This time it passed; with significantly dirtier tailpipe measurements.
       
      Tell me again how the rules aren’t arbitrary?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Emission standards have been approaching zero, while battery energy density has increased only incrementally.  This makes the case for an EV very uncompelling, when so many cheaper vehicles generate nearly the same pollution as an EV.
       
      http://clinton4.nara.gov/media/gif/emission.gif

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    There’s plenty of demand for electric cars- Volkswagen simply does not have the engineering talent to deliver a product that will be relevant to the market so they’re taking the sour grapes approach. I mean let’s be completely honest- simple electrical systems such as brake lights and radios that work properly are a challenge for VWAG- building an entire car on electric propulsion? Sounds like a nightmare.
    This is the same Volkswagen whose reaction to America’s dismissal of the brand for its dismal quality control chose to instead dumb down and cheapen their products for the U.S. market (didn’t work for GM, either). They’re not even bright enough to realize they’re competing against Honda in the U.S. market, not Peugeot.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Oh so true. Starting with the 2003 Accord, Honda in fact made a decision to make the Accord handle more like a Passat and less like a Camry. The Acura TSX version takes that a step further.
       

    • 0 avatar

      Heavens. Someone who can build Bugatti Veyrons, Lamborghinis, and a 918 Spyder should have enough engineering talent to connect a battery to an electric motor.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @Bertel: you’re talking about a company that, while it can build a Veyron, couldn’t build a working AM radio for more than a decade.
       
      Hey, wasn’t Winkertorn head of QA at some point?  Surely he’d have something to say!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Nuclear power plants solve the CO2 dilemma nicely, but they have their own issues :(.
     

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    VW are about to be slapped around heavily because they have nothing to offer in hybrid or EV. Imagine that; a corporation trotting out someone to say something self-serving.

  • avatar
    vvk

    I don’t give a rats ass about CO2 euro-nonsense, but there are other attributes of EVs that attract some people. Silent, instant torque, no multispeed gearbox, no harsh chemicals on board (gas/diesel), no smell, no oil changes, etc., etc. In 100 years they will be perfected, just as ICE has been in the past 100 years.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This is a nice thread, because it well illustrates how much “green technology” is the product of little more than wishful thinking.  E.g. “when someone gets the electric car right, there will be tons of demand?”  True enough, and the people buying them will be all those folks who bought the gas engine cars that made use of the 100 mpg carburetor after the oil-automotive cartel was finally cornered by the government and forced to bring it to market.
    The basic problem with electric cars is that batteries have a much lower energy density than fuels.  So, electric cars are extraordinarily inefficient because a very substantial portion of their weight is battery.  The best that can be said for electric cars is that they may be a transition to fuel cell cars, which use electricity derived from a chemical reaction that produces mostly water vapor.
    In the short run, if the goal is to reduce pollution, why isn’t a natural gas powered car the answer?  The technology is mature, and filling up your NGV is, in fact, easier and faster than recharging the battery.  You can even do it at home.  The NGV isn’t quite CO2-free, but its probably no worse than an electric car powered by natural-gas generated electricity . . . and probably better than an electric car powered by coal-generated electricity, and nukes have other problems, like the fact that nuclear electricity can’t exist without subsidies because of market concerns about waste disposal and accidents.
    I can understand the VW guy’s frustration.  From his perspective — and most — EVs are a government-mandated blind alley.  If the goal is to reduce fuel consumption (and, hence, pollution assorted with moving the vehicle), the most fruitful paths are increasing engine efficiency (if ceramics can ever be adapted to ICE use, thermal efficiency will go way up, with a corresponding reduction in fuel consumption) and reducing weight through use of exotic materials and design.  Unlike with batteries, which are a pretty mature technology, volume production will bring the unit cost of these other features down.
    But, thanks to governments, car makers are forced to spend the R&D money on EVs rather than on other, more promising technologies.
    Now, I’m just waiting for someone to say, “But EVs of the future will be powered by solar, wind and biomass electricity!”
    Yeah, right.

  • avatar
    Valatan

    But power plants run at a way higher efficiency than cars do–not having to move around, they can be designed to do little but efficiently turn fuel into power.  Lost rates along electric lines are less than a percent.  This is why a full charge on an EV costs far less than an equivalent amount of distance would cost in terms of gas.
     
    And if you live in a region, like, say, Germany, where wind power is taking off, the beginning to end emissions are zero, modulo what went into making the power lines and the cars themselves.  The claim that power plant emission is as bad as car emission is like saying that secondhand smoke a few times a month has as many health risks as being a chain smoker.


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