Bernard Mattes (VDA): 'Euro VI diesel still to play an important role in improving air quality'

The German city of Hannover will be transferred in September into a commercial vehicle town for the IAA. In July the organizer, the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), traditionally organizes a get-together with the trade press en economical journalists. The workshop was opened by VDA-President Bernard Mattes who appealed to politicians not to focus entirely on electric mobility and urged not to forget the sustainable role a 'clean' Euro VI diesel can play in improving the air quality.

Furthermore he addressed in his speech several topics: sustainability, digitization, connectivity, automated driving and alternative powertrains. Topics in focus at the 67th IAA Commercial Vehicles Show and the drivers of innovation in commercial vehicles. Mattes stressed: “The digitization of traffic opens up completely new opportunities for making mobility smoother and more efficient in large metropolitan areas and beyond. That reduces emissions. Most importantly, digitization, connectivity and automated driving will bring about a quantum jump in road safety.” One of the examples in digitization in road traffic is platooning. For now it is only tested with trucks, but it might also be feasible for coaches. And with reason, because Mattes emphasized that it can reduce fuel consumption and CO2 output by up to ten percent. But the VDA-President also said that an essential condition for digitization is the existence of an appropriate digital infrastructure throughout Europe.

CO2 emissions

Electric mobility will be a key theme at the IAA. According to the VDA there are many openings for deployment, particularly for vans and urban buses but also in local distribution using battery-electric vehicles up to 26 tons. Mattes mentioned that in Germany considerable progress has been achieved in reducing fuel consumption and CO2 output. Since 2000 CO2 emissions from road freight traffic in Germany have fallen by 8 percent - despite the increased volume of traffic. Emissions per ton-kilometre have come down by 35 percent. The market for commercial vehicles is driven by efficiency. Although Mattes said that further market transparency at this point is necessary, he concluded that the simulation tool VECTO, which delivers "official" comparable values for consumption and CO2 output, an appropriate instrument is.” Mattes: “We are facing important political preparations in climate protection policy. Manufacturers can not overcome the challenges on their own. An integrated approach is necessary involving vehicle production, vehicle use, fuels and the infrastructure in equal measure.”

Proposal CO2 Regulation

Nevertheless the VDA president took a critical view of the European Commission’s proposal for the first CO2 Regulation for heavy-duty commercial vehicles: “The industry supports a realistic regulation in principle. However, the Commission’s draft is totally out of proportion.” He explained that the European Commission has proposed CO2 reduction targets of 15 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. These targets are roughly double those that the industry considers very ambitious, but still feasible. “Furthermore, the penalties for missing the targets are exorbitantly high and almost arbitrary”, Mattes emphasized.

We also take a critical view of what the Commission proposed in the second mobility package for the CO2 fleet-wide limit values applicable to passenger cars and vans. The projected 30 percent reduction for passenger cars by 2030 is already very ambitious. For vans, this value is just not realistic.” Mattes pointed out that there are many different types of vans whose construction also varies widely – resulting in differences in consumption. It will be difficult to implement a standardized CO2 value. Also new technologies are generally only introduced in light commercial vehicles after they have demonstrated their benefits in passenger cars. Brussels is oversimplifying the issue if it merely transfers the reduction rates for passenger cars to the commercial vehicle sector. The guiding principle for any CO2 Regulation must be the basic principle of technology neutrality. We must be able to exploit all the potentials.”

Euro VI and or electric

In this regard Mattes said that we not must tar all vehicles with the same brush. “For the heavy vehicles Euro VI standard the NOx emissions were reduced by 80 percent compared with Euro V levels. Independent investigations confirm that heavy Euro VI vehicles have results below the legal limit value, also in real-world tests. This shows that modern diesel vehicles can therefore also contribute to satisfying the EU's requirements for urban air quality by a rapid renewal of the vehicle fleet. In particular vehicles that are used frequently in towns, such as urban buses. We therefore believe that it is not enough for the Government's to promote the procurement of electric buses and retrofits, while not leveraging the potentials of fleet renewal with the most advanced Euro VI diesel buses and other alternatives such as natural gas or E-fuels synthesized using renewable electricity particularly in metropolitan areas.”

Free trade

As President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry he commented on market developments. “On the commercial vehicle markets, the outlook for 2018 as a whole is largely positive. No-one is going to overlook the risks here including the effects of Brexit or the threat of isolationism and protectionism. It is imperative that we continue to back free and fair trade.”

The 67th IAA Commercial Vehicles, 'Driving tomorrow', will take place in Hannover from September 20 to 27, 2018. More information: www.iaa.de

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