Volkswagen Chief Executive Bernd Pischetsrieder used his keynote speech at the Los Angeles Auto Show to reinforce the company’s strategic embrace of diesels coupled with synthetic fuels and biofuels as the pre-hydrogen solution for sustainable transportation.
“Biodiesel and bioethanol are the only fuels that allow for energy independence.”
Pischetsrieder said that while biodiesel is the short-term solution, synthetic fuels are the long term solution.
VW entered into a research partnership with ag giant ADM on biodiesel in January 2004. The company has also been working with Shell on GTL (Gas-to-Liquid) synthetic fuels. Trials in 2003 in Berlin comparing GTL against ultra-low sulfur diesel in Euro-4 compliant Golf TDIs showed that burning GTL produced:
26% reduction in PM
6% reduction in NOx
63% drop in hydrocarbon emissions
91% drop in CO
4% decline in CO2
(Those results reflect only the operational emissions— not the energy and emissions lifecycle cost of creating the GTL from natural gas.)
Pischetsrieder argued that gasoline-electric hybrids only providing meaningful fuel savings when motorists are in stop-and-go driving situations.
“On the highway, they [gasoline-electric hybrids] use substantially more fuel than modern diesels, and they cost more to produce.”
His speech set out no new ground (earlier post)—VW and Pischetsrieder have been vocal about diesels and “Sunfuels” as the best—although not only—path to sustainability. The company will embrace hybrid technology at some point—but it will probably be with a diesel, and it will have to have worked out the issues of highway fuel economy that are bedeviling some of VW’s competition, such as Daimler Chrysler. (Earlier post.)
(Thanks to Jeremy Rosenberg for additional info.)