"At the International Motor Show (IAA) in Munich last month two things stood
out: the number of sleek electric models from Chinese brands, and the European
auto executives who had little to offer except to talk up e-fuels.
The risk of European carmakers losing ground to Chinese rivals on electric cars
is real. Export-driven German brands have already lost in China. And the sales
of China-made EVs, including those by Tesla and Renault’s Dacia brand, are
surging in Europe.
Don’t be fooled: this is not about unfair practices or lax environmental
standards outside of Europe. This is because the Chinese have better batteries,
better software and better infotainment systems, which modern drivers want.
European carmakers are behind because they were too arrogant and too slow in
investing in electrification.
First, they touted “clean diesel” as the future; then came Dieselgate. So, the
industry pretended plug-in hybrids, which use both an electric and a petrol
drive, were a better fit. These turned out to be “fake electrics”, prompting
governments to remove incentives.
Now we are living the third lie; that synthetic diesel and petrol – made by
combining hydrogen with carbon – will save combustion engines from
obsolescence. But these e-fuels are simply making e-fools of the European car
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics