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Auto exec admits his company may have to develop a hybrid powertrain in the U.S.

Harald Wester -- CEO of Fiat S.p.A.'s (BIT:F) high-end subsidiaries Alfa Romeo and Maserati -- admits his performance luxury car firm may be forced to make a hybrid powertrain to satisfy U.S. CAFE standard regulations.  But while his peers like Ferrari S.p.A.Porsche Automobil Holdings SE (ETR:PAH3), Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) AG (ETR:BMW), and McLaren Automotive are at least feigning genuine enthusiasm about their upcoming hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) sports cars, Mr. Wester didn't candy-coat his opinions: he thinks that EVs are "nonsense".

At the Shanghai Auto Show he said in a keynote:

It looks like something we will have to, but the only reason to do it is to meet regulations. We don't see it as a significant business.

All this discussion about zero emissions is nonsense. Nobody talks about the efficiency of how the battery is charged. It varies strongly from region to region, depending on how the energy is produced, nuclear, coal and so on, but even the best is not ahead of the internal combustion engine.

Diesel and CNG are the more obvious answers if CO2 is the focus. Both are more viable answers than hybrid. If they gave us a CO2 target instead of imposing technology then we would go that way.

If we want a realistic solution to emissions then the regulators need to be more honest in how they calculate emissions. Electric cars are not the answer.

2014 Maserati Ghibli
The 2014 Maserati Ghibli -- not an EV

By his estimates electric vehicles have a plant-to-road lifecycle output of 86g of CO2/km in Europe, 110g/km in the USA, and 191g/km in China.  In other words, he's arguing that EVs are far from zero emissions -- and he's right.

To be fair, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency tasked with CAFE regulation, does somewhat take this into effect via its mpg-e (electric vehicle mpg) numbers.  That said, the numbers do seem a bit skewed -- EVs are scoring 100 MPGe or more.  To put that in context the 1.4L engine Chevy CRUZE from General Motors Comp. (GM) puts off only about 161 g/km, meaning that it may produce less emissions in regions like China where much of the power comes from "dirty" sources.

Source: Autocar



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RE: Truer Words
By Paj on 4/26/2013 8:33:07 AM , Rating: 1
Forcing corporations to adopt standards is definitely the way to move forward. Any time a company has to comply with new safety/efficiency legislation, they complain.

They complained about phasing out leaded petrol, CFCs, asbestos, despite the clear health and environmental warnings. This is no different - it takes time and money to confirm to new legislation, which is why corporations don't like it. But the benefits are clear - they're not just creating new legislation for the hell of it.


RE: Truer Words
By Schrag4 on 4/26/2013 9:50:26 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree. Corporations don't complain about change when it's what their customers want. Perhaps more people today want EVs than are buying them, but that's because of the shortcomings of EVs and the increase in price. Corporations are complaining because they're being forced to produce cars that are largely unpopular. Wouldn't any corporation making anything complain about regulations requiring them to offer a product before the technology is mature enough to be cheap enough to sell? This isn't about some great conspiracy to keep you in a vehicle that uses fossil fuels.


RE: Truer Words
By BRB29 on 4/26/2013 9:59:13 AM , Rating: 2
I remember clearly corporations complain about CAFE standards and it's exactly what the customers want. MORE GAS MILEAGE

Every product regardless of regulations is always offered before the technology is matured. Anybody who buys them are called early adopters. Generally they are bought by the wealthy as there is a premium on them. You don't remember how expensive laptops and cell phones were? What about $5k for a 42" 720p LCD? Carbon fiber? even those stupid toy RC helicopters things used to sell for $60+ each


RE: Truer Words
By Schrag4 on 4/26/2013 12:31:17 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I remember clearly corporations complain about CAFE standards and it's exactly what the customers want. MORE GAS MILEAGE


I want more gas mileage too, but I don't want to drop an extra 20k up front to get it.

quote:
Every product regardless of regulations is always offered before the technology is matured. Anybody who buys them are called early adopters. Generally they are bought by the wealthy as there is a premium on them. You don't remember how expensive laptops and cell phones were? What about $5k for a 42" 720p LCD? Carbon fiber? even those stupid toy RC helicopters things used to sell for $60+ each


Totally agree. Only with CAFE standards and subsidies and tax credits, we're all forced to be early adopters to some extent whether or not we want to be.


RE: Truer Words
By Rukkian on 4/26/13, Rating: 0
RE: Truer Words
By Nutzo on 4/26/2013 4:44:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Without push and previous cafe regs, we would be stuck with cars that get at best 20-24mpg, cause that is all that is available.


I detect a complete lack of faith in the free markets.
You actually think that nobody would be making high milage cars if the government didn't force them to?

I'm not looking at buying a hybrid because of government cafe standards, I'm considering it because of $4 gas.

Without the standards, some companies would have been pushing high milage cars because that is what some people want. When gas prices went up, the other companies would have lost market share and quickly started producing more efficent cars or they would go out of business.


RE: Truer Words
By Paj on 4/27/2013 4:00:00 AM , Rating: 1
By and large, customers don't know what they want, nor do they make optimal choices - they are largely driven by fear, insecurity and one-upmanship. This is one reason why advertising is so effective, and why legislation is so important.

The standards just say that vehicles need to be more fuel efficient. No one is forcing anyone to buy EVs - theyre just one part of it. While I agree that the 'killer app' EV, (with the same versatility as an all round ICE vehicle) has yet to be invented, it wont be long.


RE: Truer Words
By Schrag4 on 4/27/2013 5:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
By and large, customers don't know what they want, nor do they make optimal choices - they are largely driven by fear, insecurity and one-upmanship. This is one reason why advertising is so effective, and why legislation is so important.


I couldn't disagree more. If people are too stupid to make the best choice for themselves, we don't need legislation to force them to to what's best for them. I don't need someone 1500 miles away deciding what I should buy. Besides, if advertising works so well on so many people, we wouldn't need anything but advertisements to get people to buy EVs. No, it's just because the tech isn't quite mature enough yet. Those stupid, fear driven people you refer to who are so easily swayed by ads STILL decide not to buy one because they cost too much and don't perform quite well enough. It'll get there, what's the rush?

quote:
No one is forcing anyone to buy EVs...


We're ALL paying for EVs to some extent in the form of tax credits. (well, those of us that pay into the system anyway) As far as I know, there's not a checkbox on the 1040 form for whether or not you want to fund those credits.


"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer














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