GENEVA SHOW - Diesel hardware retrofits not way forward - VDA

By Dave Leggett | 6 March 2018

Bernhard Mattes, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), has reiterated that the German auto industry prefers software updates to hardware retrofits of emission control technologies, as a way to clean up diesel emissions and improve air quality.

Speaking ahead of the Geneva Motor Show, Mattes said that retrofitting solutions come with serious disadvantages.

"Retrofitting will take at least two to three years to implement and will therefore not bring quick improvements in urban air quality."

"Even though many people are now demanding retrofits, this type of approach has two key disadvantages compared with software updates, which the German OEMs are providing free of charge for over five million diesel cars," he said. "Retrofitting will take at least two to three years to implement and will therefore not bring quick improvements in urban air quality. Second, hardware retrofits are always associated with higher consumption and therefore higher CO2 emissions. That does not help climate protection. Software updates, on the other hand, take effect quickly while consumption remains unchanged."

He added that these measures were being supplemented with participation in the German Government's fund, the trade-in bonuses that have been available for several months, and the city initiative.

Mattes also pointed out that Germany's Federal Administrative Court had come out against general vehicle bans: "The court has clearly stated that any bans will have to be proportionate and may only be an option of last resort. Furthermore, politicians have stressed that they want to do everything they can to avoid driving bans. That is the correct approach, also in respect of the many motorists who have been uncertain for months due to the debate on vehicle bans. The German manufacturers make a major contribution to improving air quality." Modern diesels are still needed for achieving the ambitious CO2 targets, according to Mattes.

He stressed that the German automotive industry had been applying its broad-based strategy for years, which includes all types of powertrains.

Electric mobility is one focal point, he said. "The number of e-models will be trebled to more than 100 by 2020. Our position in this area is becoming stronger all the time."

"The success of our firms is illustrated by the fact that 80 percent of the electric cars produced in Germany are exported," Mattes said.

"The German automotive sector accounts for 35 percent of all investment in research and development by German industry. German manufacturers and suppliers invest over 40 billion euros per year in research and development. We are extremely active not only in electric mobility, but also in digitization. During the next three to four years, our companies will be investing 16 to 18 billion euros in connected and automated driving. This will make the mobility of the future even safer, more efficient and more convenient," Mattes underscored. He pointed out that the German automotive industry is already world champion in patents for connected and automated driving. It holds 52 percent of all patents issued in this field anywhere in the world since 2010."