Germany’s biggest industry has set highly ambitious goals. The Bundesrat voted last week to ban all diesel and gasoline cars by 2030, meaning that all new vehicles will be emissions-free in just 14 years.

The country where a three-wheeled vehicle powered by a single cylinder engine was patented 130 years ago, is responsible for one in every five cars sold worldwide, which makes sense given that Germans are taking serious steps to introduce the world to the future of the automotive industry. The diesel engine was just the perfect energy-rich gasoline alternative, and German automakers promoted it as the best way to reduce Co2 emissions while maintaining the internal combustion status quo.

Electric Vehicles
Diesel accounted for 50 percent of car sales in Europe and regulators were fine with that. Image credit: Electric Vehicle News.

The new goal is to adopt a much cleaner energy use. It is true that India, the Netherlands, and Norway have made headlines with similar proposals, but this one demands, even more attention because Germany has no less than 41 car and engine plants. Native giants such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Porsche have added value to the country’s economy.

Automakers seem to be ready to face the challenge. At Paris Motor Show 2016, Mercedes presented a battery-powered concept SUV, the first product in a next-generation line of electric vehicles.

For its part, BMW announced last week that it would systematically electrify all its brands and model series, as reported by Wired. A new Mini-E and an electric X3 crossover will come first.

As for Volkswagen, it revealed its all-electric, autonomous concept in September. The company presented a $30,000 car with blue tires and a disappearing steering wheel that will be ready by 2020.

Not an easy race

It all sounds very promising, but there are countless challenges these companies must be prepared to face. One of them has to do with the fact that customers are not exactly eager to get an electric car, particularly because it is easier to switch back to petrol given the low oil prices.

Profit margins decrease, and automakers may avoid mass production of all-electric cars at the beginning. Making internal combustion cars implicates significant investments because batteries are expensive and a new supply chain is required to build vehicles with electrification elements. The other alternative is to build components in-house, but that also represents a huge challenge.

Volkswagen electric car
Volkswagen electric vehicle concept. Image credit: Volkswagen.

When BMW or any other automaker announces they will electrify every car, they most likely mean they will start with a hybrid system such as a 48-volt one. Its motor is small, and it uses a battery for an efficient power boost, according to Wired.

Automakers get to decide how they will start adopting clean-energy methods, but being left behind is not an option as regulators worldwide are demanding clean-energy cars as part of the Paris agreement goals. China has aggressive 2020 goals and Europe has set serious 2025 targets. The United States has its Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.

Audi and Dieselgate

Dieselgate has led Audi to major spending cutbacks. Chief executive Rupert Stadler and other bosses decided to drop unique models and work closely with Volkswagen’s other brands to develop new ones, as reported by German magazine Der Spiegel. A board meeting is scheduled for early December to sign a new wind tunnel and a huge tech campus.

For now, Audi is focused on introducing new models, including the Q2 compact crossover. It goes on sale in Ireland this week, according to the Irish Examiner. The diesel 110mp SE model costs €32,490, and an S-line version will be sold by €35,790. Audi Ireland said it would announce the prices for the 1.0-litre TFSI and 1.4-litre TFSI petrol models in the coming weeks.

The brand offers cruise control, rear parking sensors and smartphone interfacing on its SE trim. The S-Line trim comes with sports suspension, sports seats, LED headlights, drive select plus an 18-inch five-spoke Y-design alloy steering wheel.

Source: Wired