In the second of a three-part interview series with Dr Wolfgang Hatz, Glenn Brooks hears some strong words for the European Commission over ever-changing emissions standards.
j-a: Porsche buyers have traditionally wanted powerful, large capacity engines. You must be devoting a lot of engineering resource towards meeting future emissions legislation.
WH: Yes, this is a big challenge for us, and for many other manufacturers. We are working hard ahead of Euro 6 and then after that comes Euro 6 Plus but not Euro 7 as we are still waiting to see exactly what this will be.
What the European Commission has to understand is that we cannot have new emissions standards every two years! I personally think that the approach adopted by the United States is much better as we know a long time in advance what they need us to do – we can plan for what will be required in 2022.
j-a: Why is the cost of meeting the EC’s norms so high?
The problem that we have in Europe is that it costs a lot to convert engines to new EC emissions standards. I’ll give you an example. For the Panamera, we have a seven year lifecycle. If you start in 2009, you started with Euro 4. And then in 2010 you had to comply with Euro 5, and after that, Euro 5 Plus in 2013. And then in 2015, we have Euro 6. But still, more: in 2017/2018, it will be Euro 6 Plus. This all costs a lot of money, especially when you consider the expense of homologation. And remember, the customer does not want to pay more for the latest engine.
I think this system is stupid because it doesn’t help the environment: with this one generation of the Panamera, we started with Euro 5. We now have to convert engines to Euro 5 Plus and then we’ll have Euro 6. Contrast that with the approach of California and US Federal standards – I know exactly what will be happening in 2020. And there is a phase in so in the first year perhaps 25% of your fleet must comply and in the second year, 50%. In Europe, this situation does not exist and I think we need to have a discussion about this.
j-a: If so many engineers are tied up working on these changing EC emissions laws, what impact does that have on future vehicle development projects?
In our company [Volkswagen Group] I would say we have the biggest R&D budget in the industry. But still we see too much money and too many engineers having to be used for EC emissions standards which keep changing. That has an impact on what you have to spend for future vehicle programmes. I wonder how those companies which do not have our resources and profits, I wonder how they can plan for this?
j-a: But surely, air quality comes above all else?
Yes, of course. But what is better for the environment: spending money on having to fulfil an emissions standard which does not remain stable or spending money to have our engineers develop the best, most advanced fuel saving technologies?
In the final instalment of this three-part series, Dr Hatz details some of the technology that will power the forthcoming 918 Spyder, a car he calls “the most advanced project in the automotive industry”. Part three will be published on 12 October.