Daily Management Review

New emission standards stir German automotive industry


Motorists in Germany are outraged. The world's largest automaker, the German concern Volkswagen, stopped accepting orders for sale of some of its models in early August. Until the end of 2018, the concern is not accepting customer orders for hybrid cars and gas-fueled vehicles. It is still possible to order an electric vehicle, but the waiting time will be up to 7 months.

Larissa Greatwood
Larissa Greatwood
Volkswagen is looking for a parking lot

The overall picture of the German automotive is even more impressive. Audi and Porsche are refusing to accept orders for most of the range of hybrids. There’s not enough time to equip VW branded cars with the necessary technical innovations. In this connection, new cars are sent to long-term parking instead of shipping to showrooms and buyers.

And since there’s not enough of these parking lots, the concern had to rent space throughout Germany, including the area of the unfinished Berlin airport BER. The company will also have to seriously review the lineup of VW cars and, according to the German press, to part with some modifications, including such popular ones as the VW Golf GTI.

On August 7, German Daimler said it was impossible to deliver Mercedes to all customers on time. And although sales in July of this year showed the second best result in the history of the company, it means a drop in sales by almost 8% compared to last year's July. Things are somewhat better for BMW, but the Bavarians had to abandon a number of modifications of cars in their model range. And all this is happening in the conditions of stable growth of the whole German car market as a whole.

The Dieselgate echoes 

What happened to the leaders of the European car industry, and why are the world-renowned manufacturers not able to put their cars to everyone? The reason for the new procedure for laboratory testing of vehicle environmental parameters is WLTP. This world-wide standard will be applied in the European Union on September 1, 2018 and will replace the critically acclaimed NEFZ standard.

The WLTP is meant to equal laboratory indicators of harmful substances emissions in the atmosphere to indicators of real operation. German experts believe that deviations of laboratory indicators from real numbers under the previous standard could reach 40%. After the introduction of WLTP, the peak deviation values will not exceed 20%.

Recall that back in 2015, manipulation of the results of laboratory research on exhausts of diesel cars led to the largest in the history of the German automotive industry scandal, Dieselgate. The scandal’s provocateur was Volkswagen, and there are still numerous investigations conducted against its managers. However, accusations of embellishing the indicators of real operation - albeit on a smaller scale - were also heard about other German automakers.

Blaming the WLTP

As the German carmakers stated, transition the WLTP vehicles means a huge amount of work for enterprises. Available laboratories are not designed for new requirements. The Association of the German Automotive Industry (VDA) indicates that the decision to introduce WLTP in Europe was announced just 11 months before the date of introduction. This is a "relatively short time", emphasizes the VDA’s head Bernhard Mattes.

According to the association, hundreds of car modifications still do not have certification for the WLTP requirements. For Volkswagen alone, this will mean 200-250 thousand cars, which will be delivered to customers late.

Still, these figures are not final. The matter is that since September, new limits of harmful emissions for petrol cars start to operate simultaneously with WLTP. Given the wide use of injection engines, these limits can only be met by retrofitting the machines with a particle filter (OPF). And this means more work for carmakers.

The automotive industry is still busy with the Dieselgate

However, not everyone understands complaints of the car industry. "All this whining of car manufacturers is absurd," says Michael Müller-Görnert, an expert at the ecological auto club VCD.

They always talk about too many changes and too high expenses, he notes. At the same time, as the expert recalled in an interview with DW, representatives of German automakers were part of all the working groups that participated in the development of new standards, both at the EU level and even under the auspices of the United Nations.

Muller-Görnert explains the delays in the supply of cars by the fact that some of the automakers are still busy eliminating the consequences of Dieselgate. For example, Volkswagen engineers are now concentrating their efforts on updating the software for engines that caused the "diesel" scandal, and they simply do not have enough time for the rest.

source: dw.de