Volkswagen: Publically Embracing EV Tech, Privately Dismissing It In Europe

Volkswagen: Publically Embracing EV Tech, Privately Dismissing It In Europe

A hit piece on alternative technology, like the one just released by Roland Berger, might have been an effective tool a decade ago, before the plug-in movement was fully entrenched.

"Integrated Fuels and Vehicles Roadmap 2030+" is the kind of report that, in the past, would have stayed as backroom fodder, ignored by the common man, but used by government lobbyists to sway public policy...but it is 2016 now, and that horse has left the barn.

Commissioned by the EU Auto Fuel Coalition, a new 138 page "study" on why biofuels, and not plug-in technology, should be at the core of "future" green endeavors in Europe, while also recommending a easing up on EU emission standards has just been released.

So, who is the "EU Auto Fuel Coalition"?

It consists of such bastions of automotive and "green" integrity as Volkswagen and Shell; with assistance from OMV (an integrated, international oil and gas company), NEOT (North European Oil Trade), Toyota, Honda, Neste (oil refining) Daimler, and BMW.

Why does the study even exist?

After the Paris climate summit last year, the EU is currently in the process of setting up new efficiency targets for 2025 and 2030, one that will likely revolve around plug-in technology.  This study is a well-crafted retort.

At a meeting in Brussels this week, Volkswagen and Shell suggested another path, an easier path, more profitable path (for themselves) - at least as compared to corporate and governmental accountability...one that consists of C02 car labelling, more biofuels, and the expansion of the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS).

As for the "Integrated Fuels and Vehicles Roadmap 2030+ " study, it is littered with every reason why plug-in technology is the wrong way to go (too expensive, no infrastructure, immature technology, etc., etc.), while giving biofuel technology the wings of a dove.

Check out this quote (and companion Figure 100 slide - below) from the study on why e-mobility's day has yet to come:

"End customers perceive many hurdles when it comes to acceptance of and adoption of and adaptation to electric mobility.  The hurdles include the higher purchasing price and the perceived risk of use of the technologies (like burning batteries in early BEVs with Li-Ion batteries or lack of customer experience with battery lifetime), vehicle driving limitations, limitations in infrastructure availability, long charging times..."

that would see 15,000 new DCFC installs over the next 3 years. (via Roland Berger Study)

that would see 15,000 new DCFC installs over the next 3 years. (via Roland Berger Study)

Or this further impediment to EV readiness via this handy graphic (below), illustrating that Europe needs 5,014,750 more public L2 charging stations, and 8,270 more DC fast charging stations (besides the billions of existing wall sockets already in place of course) to have a healthy infrastructure behind EVs - at a cost of some ~6.25 billion euros.

"Assumed for the purposes of this study" is that public charging station are needed for one in every 73 "inhabitants" (not car drivers, or even licensed drivers) for EV adoption to take hold.

Figure 116: But what if 5 million EV owners wanted to plug-in?  (via Roland Berger Study)

Figure 116: But what if 5 million EV owners wanted to plug-in?  (via Roland Berger Study)

While at the same time,  the Auto Fuel Coalition says only 23,000 CNG stations, at a cost of 430 million euros, are needed for full EU coverage.  Better yet, just use E85 (and forgot those pesky future emission/efficiency regulations altogether) - apparently only 20,000 stations are needed, and at a discounted cost of just ~247 million euros.

The Guardian reports on comments made by Ulrich Eichhorn, VW’s new head of research and development, and Shell’s vice-president for for downstream strategy, Colin Crooks.:

"(Eichhorn said) that plug-in hybrids and more efficient vehicles were “building blocks”for the future, but that “higher shares” for biofuels would be needed in the meantime.

He told a meeting in Brussels: “Modern diesel and natural gas engines will absolutely be required to deliver CO2 targets until 2020 and they will also contribute to further reductions going on from there.”

In meeting the Paris goals, “societal costs need to be minimised to keep our industrial strength and competitiveness,” he said."

Volkswagen:

Volkswagen:"Modern diesel engine absolutely required"

Colin Crooks (Shell):

"Liquid fuels will remain essential during the (low-carbon) transition as internal combustion engines are expected to still continue powering most transport for many years to come.”

By 2021 in the EU, new cars will be limited to no more than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre, but to reach and push much past this level, only the electrification of the automobile can fit the bill...and everyone knows it.

Bravely Enduring Their Fears Of Tesla Lithium Battery Fires, ~118,000 People Line Up Worldwide To Reserve A Model 3 - Sight Unseen (InsideEVs/Scott F)

Bravely Enduring Their Fears Of Tesla Lithium Battery Fires, ~118,000 People Line Up Worldwide To Reserve A Model 3 - Sight Unseen (InsideEVs/Scott F)

We are unsure of when this study was first commissioned, but you can be sure it was well before Volkswagen's dieselgate scandal was in full bloom.

And certainly long before the recent $1.2 billion dollar plug-in in vehicle and infrastructure announcement was made by Germany (the center of all-things regulatory in Europe)....to say nothing of the huge public shift embracing EVs as the future of transportation, especially noted by some 400,000 model 3 reservists willing to put down their hard earned money (~$1,000 USD) and then wait 2+ years for a new all-electric car.

Truth be told, we don't need any fancy studies, or new theoretical solutions, especially not from the likes of self-serving corporations to tell us the reality of what can and can't be achieved, and by whom.

Last year ~550,297 plug-in vehicles were sold worldwide (we know, we counted them), a 71% increase over the 320,713 put into service in 2014.   So, what do we need to do to hit the EU's target of a 60% reduction in transport emissions by 2050?  Nothing at all...other than to not listen to you EU Auto Fuel Coalition (and those like you).

Fair disclosure:  So as not to commit the same sin as those who published this study, we should disclose our own self-interest.  InsideEVs mission is to promote electric vehicles (and only electric vehicles), and to see more and more fossil fuel displaced by cleaner, more affordable, plug-in technology each and every day.

Integrated Fuels and Vehicles Roadmap 2030+, The Guardian, hat tip to Chris W!