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22 Oct 2020, 12:51
Benjamin Wehrmann

Volkswagen continues fight with German car lobby group over future use of fuels

Süddeutsche Zeitung

The German car industry lobby group VDA and its biggest member, Volkswagen, are continuing their internal argument over whether combustion engines in passenger cars still have a future in the country's automotive industry, Markus Balser and Michael Bauchmüller report for the Süddeutsche Zeitung. VDA head Hildegard Müller says that "technological openness" is required for Germany's car industry to become greenhouse gas-neutral by the middle of the century, arguing that synthetic fuels and green hydrogen "in all modes of transport" are needed to reduce the climate impact of the vast existing fleet of combustion engine cars. By contrast, the country's largest car company Volkswagen positions itself firmly against using fuels made with renewable energy sources, arguing that their potential for the German car industry is "massively overestimated" and that green hydrogen would be "much too precious" to use for individual mobility purposes. Volkswagen instead focuses on battery-driven cars, which it calls "a workable, efficient and economic technology that is already available for reaching the climate targets."

Other major VDA members like BMW or industry supplier Bosch have called for keeping hydrogen and synthetic fuels as technology options for passenger cars in the context of Germany's National Hydrogen Strategy launched in the summer. Critics argue that producing car fuel with renewables would be very inefficient due to conversion losses and the need to use green hydrogen in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise otherwise, such as industrial production, heavy freight transport or aviation. The fight over the future of the combustion engine already flared up last year, when Volkswagen threatened to leave the VDA due to differing positions on the choice between purely electric cars and synthetic fuels for combustion engines.

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