Diesel engines have been made a scapegoat in the climate change debate. Volker Schittenhelm urges everyone to look at the facts about emissions and technology
FIRM has been following with interest the recent discussions in the media and among politicians over diesel engines - the danger of driving prohibitions of selected cars in big cities as well as the possible consequences on our engine reman business. It is matter of fact that the car manufacturing industry, including the VW Group with its use of emissions-cheating software, is the real cause of that discussion – and the diesel combustion engine has just been made a scapegoat. We feel that the discussion is being conducted in an emotional way – so let us come back to facts!
To this end, FIRM would like to point to a position paper by a group of German, Austrian and Swiss university professors, who work as directors of institutes or who are chair holders in the automotive academic field. They are united as WKM, the Academic Society for Automotive Engineering and Engine Technology (www.wkm-ev.de). They have made three main statements based on scientific findings and knowledge:
1. The combustion engine was - and still is - the motor of mobility, freight transport and mobile working machines. This position will be amended by electrical drives, but not replaced. A technology-open development of drive systems is a prerequisite for a successful climate policy in a thriving society. Prohibition causes the opposite.
2. Due to minor impacts of combustion engines, the emission issue will be no argument against the diesel or gas engine of the future. Already today’s technology level ensures compliance with emission value limits without exception. Retrospective detected weak points are not relevant for the future. Based on intensive research, environment-neutral combustionengine drives are presentable.
3. The particular advantage of the combustion engine lies in the efficient and flexible use of fuels with high energy density and excellent storage and distribution opportunities. With this fundamental property, the combustion engine has constantly reinvented itself and enables – upon assessment of the overall system – lower CO2 emissions than alternative technologies. The potential to also use non-fossil (and thus CO2-neutral) fuels in a flexible way is an additional guarantor for a long-term and sustainable technology of the future.
FIRM fully supports the WKM statements, in which – among others - technical manipulations are condemned and the introduction of the real drive emission (RDE) regulation is advocated. Offering an environmental bonus to consumers in order to buy a newer diesel-equipped car or to change to a gas-combusted engine driven car is the environmental ultimate worse-case scenario:
1. These taken-back ‘bad’ cars will be sold outside Europe, so the problem will be thus not solved globally but transferred to other regions in the world.
2. The energy input - and with it the CO2 output - during car production is a hundred times higher than the emissions ‘saved’ by newer engine technologies.
Academic and scientific technical experts predict the combustion engine has still so much potential for development in order to reduce emissions. So do not have too much expectation on electromobility for private cars and public transport. In short: don’t worry – think diesel!
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