Combustion-Off from 2025 ?: “Then it will also be the end of hybrid cars”: Drive expert explains what Euro 7 means for drivers
The plans for a new emissions standard are making waves. In an interview, engine expert Thomas Koch criticizes the fact that the EU ignores technology experts and explains why an electric car emits similar nitrogen oxide emissions per kilometer as a diesel.
Is the combustion engine threatened with extinction? This is how one could interpret the latest proposals of the pan-European “Advisory Board on Vehicle Emission Vehicles Standards” (AGVES). In addition to renowned developers and Graz University of Technology, it also includes a Finnish state company and two branches of the University of Thessaloniki. What was hatched there has the potential to explode in terms of industrial policy. In an interview, Professor Thomas Koch from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) warns that realism should be exercised when it comes to the specifications – also in order not to harm the European idea.
FOCUS Online: Professor Koch, how do you classify the expert panel’s suggestions on the EU-7 standard?
Thomas Koch: The proposal that has now been communicated is not the proposal of the experts. Rather, the technology experts were completely overturned and de facto not heard. Three proposals were worked out in the group, and already proposal B was close to the unrepresentable. However, those responsible for the EU have taken the even more difficult proposal C and massively tightened it. The technical experts were completely ignored, but their good name was used. Incidentally, it looks like the EU Commission is now backtracking a bit. That’s a good development.
Do you oppose any tightening?
Not at all. I welcome the general revision and refinement of the Euro 6d standard, which is already excellent for eliminating a few weaknesses. First, that would be the inclusion of two other emission components, namely nitrous oxide and ammonia, simply to achieve a comprehensive consideration. Second, the implementation of the tests should be simplified. Today these are much too complex and actually no longer comprehensible.
And then, thirdly, in the interests of continuous tightening, the usual emissions, which are already at the lowest level, should be reduced again in accordance with the latest technology, which is also sensible and feasible.
Then what are the problems?
The challenges do not lie in meeting individual requirements. It is also good to achieve another homeopathic improvement, I welcome that. But the specification calls for multiple superimpositions of the toughest boundary conditions – without any relevant benefit for the typical urban air. This is pure willfulness.
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What does that mean in practice?
Take the famous nitric oxide. In a field test, Euro-6d-Temp vehicles had to meet a real measured value of 168 milligrams per kilometer at 3 ° C, EURO-6d-final vehicles must also meet 114 milligrams per kilometer at 0 ° Celsius, at -7 ° C it is 183 Milligrams per kilometer. The challenge here has been that every car has to comply with this even after 160,000 kilometers – regardless of its history – which is generally welcome.
However, the statistics of large numbers are the challenge. As a safeguard, the vehicles are already at around 5 to 30 mg / km under normal conditions. But now the one-millionth vehicle with 197,000 kilometers, in winter, at full throttle with a cold engine and with a caravan on the hook, should comply with 30 mg / km, a value that is less than the analyzed measurement accuracy. That cannot be represented. Not even as a plug-in hybrid.
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So it boils down to pure e-mobility?
E-mobility can and will make a partial contribution to improving the drive mix. However, the requirement to achieve zero in the combustion engine is arbitrary. In the German electricity mix, the nitrogen oxide emissions of an electric car are 80 to 100 milligrams per kilometer, the most modern diesel contribution is significantly lower. This is so low that it only leads to total emissions of around 1 microgram per cubic meter, even on busy roads. This is homeopathy! Those responsible for the EU have also emphasized that it is no longer about air quality, but only about the principle of “zero” with combustion engines. But anyone who really wants to set nitrogen oxide emissions to zero would have to ban the electric fleet immediately, which Of course, it doesn’t make sense either.
Do you have a solution?
When it comes to nitrogen oxide emissions, the modern combustion engine has a clear advantage over the electric car. And finally, after the last few years, we are dedicating ourselves intensively to the subject of CO2. Here, all electrification technologies – fuel cells, BEVs or hybrid vehicles – have challenges in terms of production, service life and disposal, but also potential that must be used.
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VW has just emphasized that large batteries are not a sensible solution for long ranges. In the case of combustion engines, CO2 emissions can be reduced to zero in the long term; the problem is today’s fossil fuel, which has to be replaced bit by bit with biogenic and synthetic fuel. There is a lot going on in Europe, but the Federal Environment Ministry is blocking progress here for the benefit of the environment. And unfortunately with sometimes flimsy arguments.
In the implementation of the directive for renewable energies, the Federal Environment Ministry is proposing that synthetic fuels account for a proportion of 14 percent of CO2 emissions in the second attempt after massive pressure. Why don’t we enter the race with an ambitious 20 to 30 percent in 2030, as demanded by the National Platform for the Future of Mobility (NPM)? If we take CO2 reduction really seriously, we cannot misuse it as a stirrup holder for highly one-sided technology specifications and thus damage all alternative technologies.
Unfortunately, the CO2 potential of regenerative synthesized fuels, for example R33 fuels, is still not recognized in use today. Our 13-year-old Passat, for example, has been running with it for years without any problems.
Why is it blocked?
It has already been confirmed to me that they are afraid that the battery-electric car will run out of arguments if synthetic fuels were available in the near future. That is why there is now a vigorous attempt to exclude these re-fuels from individual mobility in the medium and long term. In the deeply ideological debate, which unfortunately now resembles a religious conflict, all tricks are used to ensure that the burner necessarily dies.
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The sensible argument that there are application-specific different solutions is attacked in the sharpest possible way. The car manufacturers, on the other hand, are currently afraid that their billions in investments in electric cars will not generate any income. They are also meticulous about communicating politically correctly. If we really take the issue of sustainability and the IPCC’s remaining CO2 budget warning seriously, the entire technology discussion would have to be conducted differently.
What could synthetic fuel cost? And isn’t the poor efficiency an argument against it?
As far as the costs are concerned, depending on the location, 90 cents to 1.30 euros per liter can be represented, petroleum-based fuel is 60 to 70 cents. Do not forget that people will be able to continue driving their tried and tested, good cars in a CO2-neutral way in the long term. An invalid argument against re-fuels is that of the efficiency chain. The efficiency first indicates how far one can drive with the electrical energy obtained, either directly in the BEV or via the detour of an “electrically generated” fuel. The route via BEV does indeed initially allow an average of three more driving distances. However, we will not produce the fuel with wind, water and solar aid in Europe, but in many much more suitable regions of the world. In addition to electrical energy, only components of the air are required as a starting material. But because there is no power cable from Australia or South America to Idar-Oberstein, the fuel is not produced in Europe either. Thus the efficiency comparison does not arise at all. Energy is available in abundance worldwide. But we have an energy storage problem, which is also solved in this way.
How do you assess the discussion in an international comparison?
We Europeans currently have a special role to play here. Economically, some Europeans are more passionate about damaging the Euro-League Primus Germany than wanting to oppose the World Cup winner China. As the largest economic zone in the world, Asia, along with other solutions, continues to rely heavily on the combustion engine because an ecological and economic overall view is carried out there. And it will also exist in North America, especially in South America and Africa, for a very long time. Internal combustion engines are part of the strategy almost all over the world. But if we absolutely want to ban it, that will of course also have an impact on society.
Are you thinking of losing jobs?
Of course, maintaining a technology artificially just for the sake of jobs would be wrong and would mean expensive subsidies in the long term. However, the opposite is the case with combustion engines. With the fight of many politicians against the combustion engine, we experience something different: The centuries-old human dream of individual – automotive, namely self-moving – mobility for everyone is currently being secretly destroyed. The ideologically charged discussion drives a wedge into society as soon as people notice that long-range mobility will only be affordable for those with higher incomes. Of course, one can be of the opinion that individual mobility should be massively restricted or prohibited. Then please say it openly, and then society can discuss it based on facts.
Jens Meiners conducted the interview
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