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Published on March 12th, 2018 | by Nicolas Zart

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Germany’s Gigantic Diesel Investment Holds The Country Back From Electric Cars

March 12th, 2018 by  


Something we’ve always wondered when talking about Germany’s legacy diesel research and how much it poured into the technology is how the country would embrace the ultimate future of mobility, and its underlying electronic foundation.

Decades Of Diesel Research in an EV World

Germany Diesel investmentIt would have been hard to predict that diesel would so quickly go out of favor 60 years ago. The technology had always been promising and Germany decided to concentrate on it. In many ways, German carmakers improved diesel technology by leaps and bounds. No longer were they slow-revving torquey engines, as now they had turbodiesel driving sedans and even smaller cars in the late 70s that made it an attractive option for many. The engine was quieter by now and diesel was cheaper than gasoline. But that was 15 years ago, and the that was for the last time. The capricious nature of changing markets can dictate the most radical shifts and turns to adopt.

The Economist also seems to agree with us that the country’s previous love affair with diesel might be costing it its place in the new electric mobility (e-mobility) world. The country has a cozy relationship with its biggest industrial sector, carmaking, and it is very well represented. However, whether you speak of neon lights or writing on the wall, the future has already been claimed by an irresolute mass movement demanding more, cleaner, faster, and more efficient transportation.

How To Turn Traditional Quality Into A New E-Mobility

Germany Diesel investment

Considering that about four-fifths of the world’s premium cars have German badges, it’s hard for the country to eagerly accept a change without challenging it. But today, electric vehicles (EV) are everywhere, although not so much in Germany. Roughly speaking. The output of the three German carmakers, BMW, Mercedes, and VW, of over 15m vehicles in 2016 accounted for about a fifth of global total car production.

Unfortunately PR, marketing, and advertising can only get you so far. After a particularly ugly VW’s emissions scandal in 2015, where software was found installed in its cars to trick emissions tests, the public’s opinion is at an all time low when it comes to trusting carmakers from the country. This explains why VW has been talking 80% about the way it sees the future and hasn’t shown as much compared to other carmakers.

Now that public trust has been breached, the company finds itself in the awkward position of facing this future as a few key major cities in Europe are prohibiting the entry of diesel cars. Now, growing city bans across Europe and the globe is forcing its customers to turn to electric vehicles (EV) or other autonomous vehicles (AV) for running around our streets or in the air.

Germany Diesel investment

The problem is that no matter how you look at it Germany, it wins the posh sedan market, but Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi wins the new EV market, leaving Germany woefully behind.

Once upon a time “Made in Germany” was the guarantee of a high engineering prowess, but today it is associated with big bloated and somewhat troublesome cars that require constant maintenance. If Germany wants to compete in this new market it’s going to have to bite the bullet and commit to lightweight electric motors and batteries. Until then, it will only be nice predictions.


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About the Author

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news of that full torque, he was invited to write for various CleanTech outlets in 2007. Since then, his passion led to cover renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets both in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. He particularly enjoys communicating about the new e-mobility technology and what it means to us as a society. Today he focuses most of his writing effort on CleanTechnica, a global online outlet that covers the world of electric vehicles and renewable energy. His favorite tagline is: "There are more solutions than obstacles."



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