Axel Friedrich, head of the Transport department in the German Federal Environmental Agency has laid it on the line: Volkswagen could do better. The company which has been lauded for the Polo Blue Motion and which has not shirked in the eco-commitments race is the target of Friedrich's most recent high-profile campaign. Friedrich enlisted engineers from German universities to make improvements to an existing VW Golf. Using techniques such as reducing weight, reducing wind resistance and optimizing motor operation, Friedrich's ploy succeeded in reducing emissions 25% with modifications completely within the scope of available technologies.
Volkswagen went on the defensive, claiming that Friedrich's VW won't sell: the light Recaro seats are too uncomfortable to climb in and out of. And options like cameras to display rear-view action and eliminate side-mirror drag would price the car out of the market. Enter European regulators, stage left. If the technology is available but the market forces are not working to optimize the net good for mankind: is it time to force buyers' hands? Europe has always been more ready to attempt social engineering by regulation than the American government. If Friedrich gets his way, he will embarrass the lawmakers into action.
At any rate, Friedrich has a good point: we can't afford to wait twenty years for new technologies. We need to act now. We have the means. We must find the ways.
Via ::LA Times and the Wall Street Journal (subscription only)