Mobility of the future

The curse of variety

30. September 2017
Text: Dr. Stefan Schmerbeck
Illustration: Ole Häntzschel

The future of mobility is open. It is hard to say at this point which drive technologies will prevail and when, so automobile manufacturers are putting a lot of energy into researching and developing different technologies all at once. What follows is an overview of the facts, challenges and scenarios for sustainable individual mobility.

E-mobility on the rise

Electric drives hold the promise of emissions-free local mobility. And the electricity for charging stations in private garages on the urban periphery can be provided by photovoltaic panels on the roof. Employees and customers are already able to charge their cars on the premises of some large companies. Municipal authorities are also expanding the infrastructure in city centers. Wherever possible, underground and multistory parking garages are being equipped with charging stations. Street lights are being fitted with power outlets. The German government is incentivizing the purchase of electric cars through premiums and tax breaks. Thanks to EU funds, 15,000 new charging stations are to be built nationwide by 2020, including 5,000 fast charging stations. And automakers are also building fast charging stations. However, frequent turbo-charging damages the battery.

0 g CO2/km (local) 0 g NOx/km*
1–12 hrs. for regular charging or 20 min. for 80% capacity with fast charging
€3–20 per 100 km fuel cost**
200–600 km maximum range
Infrastructure expansion required
Too few charging points
Resource and energy consumption for battery manufacture
Investments in battery research

* Zero emission vehicle as per CARB standard

** depending on charging performance

The values marked with (i) do not represent data on any specific or planned vehicle models of the Volkswagen Group. They are abstract, rounded values or estimates based on the current state-of-the-art technology.

Fuel-efficient gasoline and diesel engines

Combustion engines, especially diesels, are more than ever have come under the general suspicion of polluting the air and contributing to climate change. Political pressure is rising. Short-term, cities are planning to implement driving restrictions. Medium- to long-term, governments are discussing a departure from the combustion engine. But even if one in every four cars is entirely electric in less than a decade, most of the vehicles on our streets will still run on gasoline or diesel. Combustion engines are popular, and not only among high-mileage drivers who appreciate their long cruising ranges. The infrastructure operates throughout the country and beyond national borders. And the engines are becoming more efficient with every generation. Synthetic liquid fuels produced from renewable energies will make a major contribution to the energy revolution.

120 g CO2/km* 60–80 mg NOx/km**
2 min. to fill the tank
€7–9 per 100 km fuel cost
500–1,000 km maximum range
Transportation revolution
Driving restrictions in cities
Fossil fuels
Increased efficiency and CO2-neutral fuels

* European limit  ** European limits

The values marked with (i) do not represent data on any specific or planned vehicle models of the Volkswagen Group. They are abstract, rounded values or estimates based on the current state-of-the–art technology.

Cleaner with natural gas

Combustion engines that run on CNG (compressed natural gas) are the cleanest, and they benefit from a reduced energy tax. However, the fueling station network hasn’t yet reached sufficient density in rural areas. Volkswagen, CNG fueling station operators and gas providers want to change this. Together, they want to bring the number of fueling stations up to 2,000 by the year 2025. Bivalent engine models that can run on both gasoline and CNG are well-suited to longer trips across country borders. For many consumers, though, the price comparison with other fuels is complicated. While many private customers are still unfamiliar with this technology, more and more city governments are switching their public transit fleets over to natural gas.

up to 20% less* CO2, only minor NOx emissions
approx. 5 min. to fill the tank
less than €7 per 100 km fuel cost
400–600 km maximum range
Europe-wide expansion required
Concerns about CNG tanks
Bridging technology
Addition of methane from renewable sources

* than comparable models with gasoline or diesel drives

The values marked with (i) do not represent data on any specific or planned vehicle models of the Volkswagen Group. They are abstract, rounded values or estimates based on the current state-of–the-art technology.

The potential of hydrogen

Hydrogen is another component found in a forward-looking drive portfolio. Produced from renewable energies, it emits no CO2 or NOx. Hydrogen is considered an integral part of the energy revolution, because surplus electricity from wind turbines, for example, can be converted and stored as hydrogen and then utilized later on. Long cruising ranges and fast fueling make this drive a generally attractive option for long-distance electric transportation. However, the fueling infrastructure isn’t yet in place. Germany plans the construction of 400 stations by 2023. But for nationwide coverage, 3,000 would be necessary. Despite the limited number of fueling stations, the fleets of mobility service providers, taxis, buses and street cleaning vehicles could operate on hydrogen in larger cities – and, in doing so, cut down on emissions.

0 g CO2/km* 0 g NOx/km**
3 min. to fill the tank
€7–9 per 100 km fuel cost
500–700 km maximum range
Expansion required
Too few fueling stations
Cost per vehicle and infrastructure
Fuel cell research

* with hydrogen from renewable sources ** Zero emission vehicle as per CARB standard

The values marked with (i) do not represent data on any specific or planned vehicle models of the Volkswagen Group. They are abstract, rounded values or estimates based on the current state-of–the-art technology.

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