Germany’s quest for green cars

For over a decade, Germany has been at the forefront of developing environmentally friendly cars. This process is generously supported with subsidies. But what does the reality look like?

Can the Audi e-tron finally fulfill the electric dream?

Can the Audi e-tron finally fulfill the electric dream?

German automakers have been researching climate friendly cars for years – sometimes successfully, other times less so. In the meantime they are receiving generous subsidies. The results are in part revolutionary models, as a glance in the rear view mirror portrays:

In 1999, the VW Lupo 3L TDI appeared, and with a fuel consumption of only 2.99L diesel per 100 km, it was hailed as the world’s first full-fledged, series-produced, fuel-efficient car. It never became a best-seller though.

In April of 2002, VW CEO Ferdinand Piëch drove to the VW annual general meeting in a Messerschmitt Kabinenroller-style 1-Liter concept car. The average consumption lay at 0.89L diesel per 100 km at an average speed of 72 km per hour.

Much praise, meager results

In 2006, Loremo celebrated its 1.5L car at the Geneva Auto Salon. Interest in the stylish eco sports car was huge. The press couldn’t praise it enough. In 2009, the concept car was even awarded by the initiative “Germany – the land of ideas” and more than 60,000 drivers expressed interest in purchasing one.

The originally planned diesel motor advanced to an electric car in 2009, because electromobility was and still is being supported generously. But the Loremo never made it past the prototype stage. 2.3 million Euros in subsidies and money from small investors were blown away (of course CO2 –neutrally).

Nonetheless, Loremo confirmed that a green car will be successful if it is sexy. Just how sporty a CO2 – neutral car can be was shown in 2008 when Tesla’s electric Roadster hit the streets.

Not even on the market

The Volkswagen group also developed diverse lightweight diesel cars and plug-in hybrids, among them the VW XL1, the former 1-Liter car. With a 10-Liter tank and a 90-minute charged litium-ion-battery, the car reached a distance of 550 km, whereof 35 km were traveled electrically. Fuel consumption was at 1.82L per 100 km with a fully charged battery, and 1.94L per 100 km when the battery was empty. What was intended to be a large series car was reduced to a small series XL1, and is not even available on the market.

As early as 1989, Audi developed an electrically powered car. 20 years later, as electromobility increased in popularity, the plans were dusted off. The Audi R8 e-tron was presented at the 2009 IAA as a show car, and can finally be ordered by the end of the year. With 340 kilowatt and mighty 920 Newtonmeter torque, the electric sports car can sprint from 0-100 km per hour in 3.9 seconds. Top speed of 250 km per hour is limited to one hour, allowing it to reach a range of 450 km.

Recent revelations of the VW emissions scandal have clearly pushed diesel cars out of the green zone. The question is, if software was manipulated already with diesel engines, how climate friendly are then electric cars? Is it therefore reasonable that the German government support electromobility so strongly?

Profile photo of Andrea Schaller

Andrea Schaller

Founder and editor Go4Ges

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